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Inferno opens with the bullet having just grazed the top of Robert Langdon's scalp. Indisposed in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of how he got there or the last two days, Langdon is plagued by visions of a Hell-like Earth (a feeling that you will soon start to relate to). Fortunately for Langdon, he is aided by Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), which is especially lucky when a female assassin arrives soon after he has woken up to finish the job.
Couldn't the bullet have just been a little bit lower? Then Robert Langdon would have been killed, and not only wouldn't you have to put up with the unbearable Inferno, but it would also have brought an end to the sorriest chapter in Tom Hanks' otherwise superlative career.
As the movie continues, Dr. Brooks takes Langdon back to her apartment, where they soon decipher, thanks to the laser pointers that just so happen to be on his person and a quick scan of his emails, that they've been left clues by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) -- a billionaire intent on launching a worldwide genocide that will reduce the population by 95%. And off they run to try and save the Earth by solving more clues, which includes visiting museums and churches, stealing artifacts, all while avoiding the chasing World Health Organization and assassin that are on their tail.
Following the poor reviews for both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, you really get the sense with Inferno that co-producer and director Ron Howard, writer David Koepp, and leading man Tom Hanks knew they weren't going to please critics, so instead they just focused on trying to keep the three-quel as simple but still pacey and surprising as possible.
But in doing that, they cut corners everywhere. And it becomes torturous to watch as it all unfolds. Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon and Felicity Jones' Dr. Sienna Brooks are able to get out of tight spots, evade drones, and escape a hoard of security guards through locks, secret doors, and a train stopping just in time. While like a stubborn attorney proceeding with a murder case even when the victim has turned up alive, the narrative ducks and dives at its own whim, trying to shock the viewer with its ludicrous twists and turns that immediately torpedo everything that's gone before it.
That might be forgivable if Inferno was in the least bit entertaining, exhilarating, or suspenseful. But instead Tom Hanks spends the entire film either complaining about a headache, jabbering on about Dante, or just providing exposition, all while his jokes and his intended, charmingly intelligent persona falls flat.
Felicity Jones tries her damnedest to impose herself amidst the mess, but there's nothing about her character that she can grab a hold of to make her in the least bit memorable. In fact, the only saving grace of the entire film, and the only reason it has a score of 1.5 rather than the 1 or 0 or negative number that it fully deserves is Irrfan Khan, who whenever he's on screen is able to bring a humor and personality to Inferno that, without his presence, it's completely void of.
With Inferno's budget slashed in half compared to Angels & Demons, Ron Howard struggles to create any legitimately tense or captivating set-pieces. Instead, despite his best efforts to increase the speed and energy of the film with pans, endless shots of running, and an underwhelming Hans Zimmer score, his direction is slow, ponderous and dull.
All of which renders Inferno as insufferable. And while you're obviously meant to take Inferno with a dash of salt, it's so preposterously stupid and dumb that this rancid popcorn flick becomes increasingly nauseating the further you taste. Fingers crossed it's the last time Dan Brown is served up on the menu.