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Legacy Review

Inferno (2016)

The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons aren’t exactly peak popcorn cinema, but they each offer a diverting brand of cheeseball religious conspiracy faux-Sherlock stories.

Inferno is a marked step down in just about every way. The underlying conspiracy — including a total yawn of a heel-turn twist — is watered down from the previous two movies. An amnesia wrinkle doesn’t really add anything except some headache-inducing editing.

The cast is total wasted potential: Felicity Jones is neither good nor bad as the film’s attractive brunette co-star (a recurring motif of this franchise). Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan have nothing to do. Ben Foster as the villain is a zero. Even Hanks himself, ever dependable, looks too old and exhausted for the Robert Langdon role.

Inferno has two technical wrinkles that add some flavor: The first is a solid synth score. The second is Ron Howard’s attempt at using color as an artistic weapon in the chaotic final action sequence. It never amounts to more than a couple of blasts of red to evoke subconscious discomfort, but it still feels like the germ of something.

Beyond that, there’s pretty much nothing to recommend here, except the usual pleasure in hi-def visits of landmarks in outlandish scenarios (and often sans tourists).

There’s something fascinating, almost alien, about the movie’s obsession with worldwide plague as a great equalizer. I wish the movie had the patience to explore the idea because it could have added some much needed flavor: bad global health policy as a villainous persona. There’s some added tension of invoking a global health disaster in a post-COVID era, but it’s undone by how little it ultimately matters. Pandemic is not an actual topic of consideration so much as another MacGuffin.

I suspect that Inferno will be the last entry in this series, which is a minor shame; they were some lukewarm fun while they lasted. But maybe it’s for the better: this last entry is definitely the low point.

Is It Good?

Not Good (2/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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