The Independent London Newspaper



FILM: Hell no! Inferno is preposterous, dull and lacking saving graces

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Not so divine: Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones in Inferno

Not so divine: Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones in Inferno

Published: 18 October, 2016

Directed by Ron Howard
Certificate 12a


THE Da Vinci Code was a huge hit, yet attracted the snobby ire of many critics. They saw the pulp fiction book and subsequent blockbuster film as the very worst example of a low-brow culture, made all the more offensive that it sold by the truckload. There were think pieces in the broadsheets and literary reviews that claimed its success was a sad reflection on the state of the world, a sign that the plebs had absolutely no taste whatsoever, and what was more worrying, they could actually read... 

Dan Brown followed up the DVC with Angels and Demons, which rode on the coat-tails of his earlier hit. Now we are into the third instalment of the adventures of Da Vinci Code hero Robert Langdon – and by stating the DVC is miles superior is a measure of how poor this film is. 

The plot basis for the Da Vinci Code was rather fun: that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were lovers, and they had kids, so somewhere running about the place are their offspring, and this secret had been harboured by a sect that counted Da Vinci among its number. 

This film, in comparison, is preposterous, dull and lacking saving graces.

Super baddie Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) is a bio-engineer who has spent a career chuntering on about how population growth now threatens the human species. He moves from lecture hall to lecture hall, conference centre to conference centre, warning that something must be done, stating that the Black Death in the medieval period helped keep populations stable, allowed for more resources to be used by fewer people, and in turn kickstarted the Renaissance. He takes matters into his own hands by developing a virus that will kill billions – creating a dirty bomb and then using a riddle about Dante’s Inferno to tell his devoted followers where they can find the package and set it off.

Meanwhile, we meet our hero Langdon as he wakes up in a Florence hospital with a form of amnesia. Dr Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) is on hand to help, and then the pair rush about European tourist hotspots trying to work out where virus is.

Why there is a recurring theme of Dante’s Inferno laid in the story is a mystery even Professor Langdon would struggle to decide. Implausible plots aren’t a problem for action adventure movies, but undecipherable characters and odd motivations undermine the pizazz a big budget film with established stars get you. 

Not accepting The Da Vinci Code as a great piece of pulp fiction feels snobbish. Not enjoying this story feels sensible.


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