Lee and Maria delve deep into the mystery: how bad can Inferno really be?
If the crux to a good mystery is to suspend for as long as possible the viewer’s ability to disbelieve, Inferno fails nearly as soon as it starts and continues to ride that failure for a staggering two hours. Giving the central protagonist a coma of convenience isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, clichéd as it is, but expecting your audience to believe that their new sidekick is just a passive do-gooder with no need to adequately explain why they’re invested in the plot is such an eye-rolling attempt to avoid addressing the elephant in the room that it derails any and all investment in the story.
A point which turns out to be something of a blessing in disguise, as it’s hard to imagine someone’s reaction after being invested in the story only to be told, first, our protagonist’s involvement in the mystery is even more staggeringly mundane and ridiculous than could ever have been reasonably conceived and, second, that the plot resolves when a lot of people fight over a plastic bag.
It’s the kind of stuff that sounds fun on paper in a campy B-movie kind of way, but in action is frightfully dull to watch. Contrived puzzles are solved essentially off-camera as the protagonist continues to bring in knowledge not previously featured in the story, prohibiting audience interaction entirely, and the plot moves on like this from one to the next, punctuated by inane scenes of our heroes walking around in plain sight and the odd ludicrous character revelation that will have audiences doubling over in either frustration or laughter.
The essential nature of what made goofy predecessor The Da Vinci Code enjoyable and interesting has been all but lost on the filmmakers here. Where once there was an underbelly of the critical fiction, in which a straightforward premise and simple mystery play into a real-world criticism on the Catholic Church’s nasty habit of erasing history, and thus impart interesting discussion on otherwise uninterested audiences, Inferno raises similar-themed questions but lacks the conviction and insight to do anything with that line of questioning.
Here we have potentially unaware audiences introduced to the concept of overpopulation and the weighty consequences of mass culling as a response, and yet the film both fails to introduce any alternative solutions and loses all potential concern with this being a potentially real-world debate when our black plague time-bomb is wrapped into a cartoonishly convoluted plot that would make the writers of Jurassic World’s “Raptors in Afghanistan” subplot proud.
Above all sins, however, is how boring the film really is. Bad enough for characters to meander around with little purpose in a mystery that gets less and less urgent each time its mentioned, but to have almost all of the new characters be one-dimensional caricatures of action plot staples tramples over any fun we could have revelling in the movie’s sheer badness. Love interest from the past, voiceless-nameless assassin, overzealous black ops guy, unconvincing double-crosser guy; the whole gang’s here and they do nothing to offer respite from the screenplay’s distinct lack of charm.
Interesting concepts like a potential Hell-on-Earth scenario and a social media mogul’s slow decline into fanaticism are abandoned almost instantly, some for more realistic (read: excruciatingly tired) “twists”. Even potential highlights, like Irrfan Kahn’s affable ivory-knife wielding business guy, are given very little opportunities to shine as we double down on Langdon’s relationships to ‘obvious traitor character’ and the aforementioned ‘love interest from the past’ character, all of which only serve to highlight how uninteresting Langdon is as the supercilious everyscholar.
In short, if it weren’t for some flashes of interesting imagery early on and some decent performances, against the odds, from Hanks, Jones and Kahn, this would be an abject failure in every sense of the word. Read Dante instead; at least it’s supposed to be incomprehensible.
Inferno was shite. Terribly written, badly acted and the worst plot ever. I was not quietly whispering F F F F F F to Lee to whole way through it. Boring and not bad in the really funny way, just in the really bad way. Don’t waste your dollas, or in our case, our euros at an IMAX. Sorry, at an IMAX OF THIS FILM. IMAX is actually pretty good.