Dan Brown’s novels about symbologist Robert Langdon are filled with conspiracy theories, convoluted mysteries that can be solved in a day, and frequent journeys that involve art across Italy. They…also aren’t especially good books. That has carried over to the film adaptations of Brown’s books, which have all starred Tom Hanks and been directed by Ron Howard. For Inferno, the third film in the Langdon series that started a decade ago with The Da Vinci Code and last appeared with 2009’s Angels and Demons, the passage of time and cutting of the budget haven’t brought any heat to the series.
Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence unaware of why he’s in Italy, or why he has a painful head wound. But he has a day to figure out what he was originally doing. A wealthy geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) with an unhealthy concern about global overpopulation and a love of Dante has killed himself, but before he falls from a building, he’s set in motion the release of a bioweapon that will infect 95% of the world’s population in a week. Langdon teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) to reexamine his steps from the previous few days, with plenty of people on his trail.
As ridiculous as this and the other films in this series tend to be, having Hanks in the role of Langdon makes him someone to root for, with all the earnestness Hanks manages to bring to every role. He’s surrounded in this film by a strong supporting cast, all of whom have little arcs of their own to make them interesting. But the actual plot is both convoluted and easily predictable. As committed as the cast is here, they aren’t able to elevate the overall film. Inferno works as a fun look at talented actors against the beautiful backdrops of Florence, Venice and Istanbul. But as the supposedly brainy action film it wants to be, Inferno burns with all the intensity of a matchstick in the wind.