Inferno is a decent adaptation of Dan Brown’s 2013 novel. Its greatest merit is that it did away with the most absurd bits of the original story.
Robert Langdon awakens in a Florence hospital room with no memory of what has happened over the last few days. He is told by Sienna Brooks, the doctor attending to him, that he is suffering from amnesia caused by a bullet wound to his head. Before Langdon could make sense of anything, he is forced to flee when a police officer that comes to question him turns out to be an assassin. Langdon then learns that Bertrand Zobrist, a billionaire geneticist, has created a virus named Inferno that he intends to use to cull the world’s population. The key to locating Zobrist’s virus lies in various clues related to Dante’s Alighieri’s masterpiece. Langdon’s quest brings him to Venice, then to Istanbul, as he races against time to stop Zobrist’s madness.
I’d be blunt. I don’t have good things to say about Dan Brown as a writer. Admittedly, the man has a certain profitable formula, but it is a formula built on gross exaggerations, hysteria, and wild plot twists that pile on like clockwork. Worse, he regularly drenches his prose with chunks of touristy narrations, most of which feels to be lifted right off travel brochures. In my opinion, the only time to read his stories is when one is trapped in a queue while at places he wrote about. Oooh! I’m standing on an Illuminati stronghold. Aahhh! A doomsday plot was hatched over there! And then you get onto the bus, and you promptly forget all about it.
For these reasons, I had no great expectations for Inferno. I am thus pleased to say that while it was hardly absent of the Brown’s absurdities, there was a marked effort to keep his worst at a minimum. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard live up to their reputations as two of showbiz’s more reliable names, and for the first half of the movie at least, there was a gripping suspense reminiscent of 70s spy thrillers. Sadly, this suspense fizzled in the second half, though I would say this was more the fault of the original plot rather than movie direction. What also puzzled me was the decision to alter the ending so drastically. All else aside, I thought the ending was the only great thing about the original story. Did the producers feel otherwise? Or was the grim message simply too hellish for the big screen? I do wonder.
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