Inferno Movie Review: Everything Goes Down in Flames

I don’t usually write film reviews. Being in the business of writing music for film and television, I tend to stay out of it. Not really a conflict of interest situation by my perception, more of a personal choice. But after watching Inferno on the weekend, I quickly recognised how fast a major blockbuster film could go down in flames.

The film starts, sputters and finishes in nearly the same messy quagmire. Imagine if you will, the preposterous puzzler Robert Langdon, waking up in a Florence hospital, (gee, another Dan Brown movie paying lasting tribute to Italy) with a cut on his head an ER nurse who seems to know everything about him.

Spoiler alert, he cannot remember anything. He is having fever dreams about the end of days, rivers of blood, plagues and, you guessed it, something to do with Dante’s Inferno. Dan Brown‘s writing is just plain lazy. He is the bass player in the band who wants to play solo OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Eventually, you just want to smash his axe.

Painfully, the film has an unnecessarily jumpy quality that does not heighten the action. Langdon is not James Bond or Jason Bourne. I get it; this is a Paul Greengrass style that everyone likes to ape, except is just doesn’t work here. JJ Abrams already mocked the running and holding hands scenario in the latest Star Wars. Why isn’t Ron Howard watching out for details like this?

It is just plain gross to watch Grandpa Hanks waddle through the chase scenes. He is an elder statesman now, time to slow down and smell the Scully, not run through more streets in Italy searching for nonsense numbers and clues only to see the twist coming a mile away. They manage to touch down in Florence, Venice and Istanbul, all the while trumpeting out where they are and having the actors fill in the gaps on why these historical sites are important. Exposition is tiresome and silly. You are assuming that the audience needs everything explained. Unless you are Ferris Bueller, do us all a favour and stop explaining every moment on screen. It is a painful conversation.

Can you just slow down?
Can you just slow down?

We don’t care what you think or what you have to say. For the people that need it explained to them, making a version of the film for idiots, don’t dumb down the entire narrative.

The locations are gorgeous on screen and do wonders to tell the story. Let them speak rather than the actors. Hanks is still one of the best around. Based on the expressions on his face, even he looks silly, confused and like he is a senior citizen being dragged around to historical sites when all he really would like to do is sit at a cafe, enjoy a biscotti and solve the puzzles.

Someone should have read the script, the shot list, the dialogue or anything. Ron Howard’s last four films have totally bombed. Maybe the thinking was that this film would somehow be the exception. It wasn’t. Inferno is more proof that the right stuff is happening outside of the cinemas today on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Best to avoid at all costs.