Everybody loves Tom Hanks. From a simple-minded overachiever to a stranded traveller to even the starry-eyed romantic, he plays his roles like he was born to do so. And then there’s the Dan Brown trilogy. And with the latest instalment, Inferno, one can’t help but ask, “Why, Tom, why?”
If you have read a Dan Brown book, you know that the author has a penchant for wrapping up the story in a 24-hour timeline. Engrossing, yes, but leaves you bewildered, until you realise that Brown has misused his artistic license a tad too much. That pretty much sums up director Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Inferno, as well.
The third film in the Robert Langdon series has the famous symbologist professor (Hanks) dashing through the streets of Europe, again, to foil the ploy of a dead madman. Obsessed with Dante and the idea that overpopulation needs to be “cured”, billionaire-geneticist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), the madman, is keen on halving the world’s population to make the world a better place. Ironic, isn’t it?
As always, Langdon thrusts himself into a wild-goose chase to follow the trail that leads to the source of a Black Plague-esque virus, planted by the now-dead scientist. All this, while the World Health Organisation, the police, a private organisation and what-not are hunting down Langdon. From Florence to Geneva to Instanbul, Langdon and the host of agents on his tail race against time to avert a global disaster, as events and discoveries miraculously fall in place at the right place and time.
Felicity Jones, as the feisty Dr Sienna Brooks who plays Hanks’s sidekick, would remind some of Audrey Tautou from The Da Vinci Code, although Jones’s character development is slightly interesting. Omar Sy as a sneaky agent and Sidse Babett Knudsen as the WHO boss play their roles without conviction.
But, the pick of the cast is, undoubtedly, Irrfan Khan. Head of a private security organisation, the witty Indian adds some spice to the otherwise predictable script and plays his part in his characteristic laid-back manner. Call me biased, but full marks to our man.
The script was strewn all over the place. Various parts of the plot had me like, "Wait, what was that?" or "How did he..?", but before I am done wondering what the bonkers is going on, I was conned into another loose end. Film adaptations are never the best, unless you are a Peter Jackson working on Tolkien’s masterpiece. But, even Jackson needs a sensible plot, so it would be unfair to dump all the blame on Ron Howard. The saving grace of the film HAS to be Hans Zimmer (isn’t he always?). The background score, very similar to Interstellar, suits the fast-paced film, yet there is only so much a music composer can do to make a film genuinely exciting.
Overall, the film, just like Brown's books, is gripping and keeps you hanging. But, it stops at that, short of any believable and solid content. The film is not the best of Tom Hanks. It is not even close. He looks tired and worn out all through, and you would half expect him to stop and blurt, “Please, no more of this. Can I just go home?” Those, in fact, were my thoughts.
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen