So, I’m gonna be straight up with you. I haven’t seen the previous two entries in the Robert Langdon series. And, actually, I fell asleep during this movie. Not that I wasn’t intrigued by how horrible it was. But, the movie is just so lazy that it doesn’t actually require a fuller watch.
Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there (I can relate), nor of what happened in the few days before he wakes up. He hit his head and has amnesia, no matter how temporary or permanent that amnesia might be. A bunch of people visit, including an assassin for some reason, and he aligns himself Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to find out why he is being targeted by somebody. Anybody. And, so, he goes on a tour to find clues related to some hot cub (Ben Foster) who thinks that overpopulation is a problem and wants to kill the world with a plague of some sort. Unfortunately, the hot cub is already dead and never appears shirtless, and also he has set the plague into motion or something and who the fuck gives a shit we all know what the hell is going to happen. Langdon is going to go deciphering a bunch of clues that are obvious to him and only him, and we’re going to go to a bunch of art museums to try to find a location of something because the villain has conveniently left behind a puzzle so that his plans can be foiled or followed through or whatever. There’s also a litany of other characters and groups that might have had something to do with some conspiracy or something, including Langdon’s ex girlfriend(?), but they really don’t matter in this thing.
I finally played Q.U.B.E. (Director’s Cut), a first person puzzle-based video game that was seemingly inspired by Portal and the movie Cube. where the character wakes up with no memory of how he got there, and is forced to do a bunch of physics-based puzzles in order to do what exactly? As you’re doing level after level of puzzles, two people are in your ear with differing opinions of what you’re accomplishing. One is a woman claiming to be from NASA who tells you that you’re on an alien spaceship and are doing puzzles to destroy the mother ship, because apparently the aliens left a bunch of puzzles lying around to destroy their ship bit by bit. The other person is a paranoid freak who claims that you’re in an underground government experiment and they’re going to kill you whether you do the puzzles or not. It’s all very silly, because the plot was added as an after thought for the Director’s Cut.
That’s the experience of Inferno. It’s just a lazy excuse to run through a bunch of art puzzles…but the problem is that the art puzzles are few and far between. The puzzles are easy to solve, taking little effort on the part of Landon and whoever his companion of the moment happens to be (Langdon is able to tell that the circles of hell are in the wrong order, but can’t remember anything else). Which makes this a movie whose only goal is to show off some art as a travelogue coffee table art book. There’s a problem with that.
This is an ugly, lazy movie. The cinematography by Salvatore Totino (not of Pizza Roll fame, apparently) is severely in need of a tripod. The shakycam is supposed to add a sense of urgency, but in a puzzle video game, we’re mostly supposed to ponder the art rather than have it shaken at us in bizarre close-ups. In Part 1 (Birth) of Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, John Cleese shouts at the nurse to “Show the baby to the mother” which prompts the nurse to shake it in front of the mother’s face. In the next breath, Cleese shouts, “That’s enough!” and they take the baby away. That’s the effect of art in Inferno. It’s only “decoration” for the plot. But, the plot is a lazy excuse to show the audience around some art. If the paper-thin art is an excuse to show off the art, and the art is shown so briefly as to be background decoration for the plot, what does that make the movie? Nothing. That’s what.
The laziness of script, story, and cinematography is only matched by the boredom of the lead actors. Nobody wants to be here, doing this script. I think everybody on this crew was held hostage by some blackmail from Ron Howard. Or, maybe they just need the paycheck (after all, this was budgeted at $75m for some reason…most of that money was probably used on room service, drugs, alcohol, and hustlers). Tom Hanks has no conviction when delivering his lines, but that’s because his lines are so dumb. Sienna reads from a website that the hot cub villain was developing a fatal chemical illness, and Hanks helpfully says “A plague?!” It’s no wonder nobody wanted to be there.
The only aspect of this chore of a movie that isn’t absolutely dreadful is the editing. If nothing else, the editing keeps the thrust of the movie going. There, that’s my positive statement about the film. Well, that and I liked watching beardy Ben Foster deliver misanthropic screeds about killing the world’s population. When one of the female characters says at some point in the movie, “I don’t think I can finish this,” she is speaking for the audience. This movie is too long (121 minutes!), boring, ugly, poorly acted, badly written, meaningless, predictable, and a chore to sit through. As the ex-girlfriend says at one point, “I need better from everybody. BETTER!”