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Movie Review: "Inferno"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Inferno

Theatrical Release: 10/30/2016

Theatrical Release: 10/30/2016

Synopsis

When Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in a hospital in Italy, Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) informs him that he is suffering from amnesia after being shot in the head. Robert Langdon has no memory of the past few days and has been having horrific dreams. Now that he has waken up, the police want to question him. However, Robert Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks grow suspicious of the police, so she helps him escape the hospital. Something strange is going on, and only Robert Langdon can figure out what that is.

They quickly find a mysterious clue left by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster)—a radical geneticist with a sinister plan. Bertrand Zobrist believes that the world is facing a population crisis. He believes that the world needs a plague to restore balance, and he is willing to create one himself in order to save the planet. At least, this is what he believed before he killed himself days earlier. It seems that before he took his life he had created a plague just like the one he had spoken about, and has hidden it somewhere for it to be released at a later time—a time that is quickly approaching. Bertrand Zobrist has referenced Dante’s Inferno when speaking about his plague. Robert Langdon is familiar with Dante’s Inferno and thinks it might contain clues regarding where Bertrand Zobrist hid his virus. Unfortunately, Robert Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks are quickly running out of time.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The ProsThe Cons

The Setting & The Intensity (+4pts)

Plot Twists (-4pts)

Tom Hanks & Felicity Jones (+4pts)

Too Long (-4pts)

Overpopulation (+3pts)

The Decision (-5pts)

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Pro: The Setting & The Intensity (+4pts)

As is to be expected in a movie such as this, the scenery in Inferno was awesome. The movie included amazing scenes in churches and museums in Florence, Italy as well as Venice and Istanbul. The movie was suspenseful and had an unrealistic plot, but the setting made this movie special. The filmmakers shot in a number of really great settings that made the movie feel both unique and interesting. A setting does not make or break a movie, but the settings used in this story certainly made this movie more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

Then there was the intensity that this movie had. If you have seen The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons then you know to expect a suspenseful and intense mystery with Inferno. I had my issues with the mystery itself, but the filmmakers were still able to make it feel intense and suspenseful. Despite my issues with the plot, the filmmakers were able to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the entirety of the movie, which was a testament to the effectiveness of the pacing of this story. Could the story have been more thought through? Sure, but the filmmakers made this an intense movie anyway.

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Con: Plot Twists (-4pts)

The plot twists in Inferno were a bit much. If I have issue with plot twists, it is usually a result of their predictability. However, the opposite was true for the plot twists in Inferno. The movie would be going along fine, and in an expected direction, when all of a sudden the filmmakers hit you with a tidal wave of plot twists that seemingly came out of nowhere. Some of these were fine, because a story like this needs a few twists and turns along the way. However, the frequency and polarizing nature of these twists started to become ridiculous pretty quickly. Again, some plot twists would have been fine and even necessary, but the filmmakers went overboard with them in this movie.

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Pro: Tom Hanks & Felicity Jones (+4pts)

Both Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones did what they could for this movie. In what I felt could have been slow and boring scenes, Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones brought a level of intrigue with their performances that made these scenes tolerable. To be clear, neither were Oscar worthy performances by any stretch of the imagination, but these two were able to improve the scenes that they were in. They made me care about what they were doing and where their characters were going, even though I thought the movie’s plot was ridiculous. Did they entirely make up for this movie’s problems? Definitely not, but the movie was better for what these two brought to it.

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Con: Too Long (-4pts)

Inferno was about thirty minutes too long. Some movies can be long and not feel like it. This movie was about two hours, but felt closer to three. Robert Langdon got way too many visions, which unnecessarily took up screen time. A couple quick flashbacks or visions would have been fine, because the visions looked great visually and helped give the movie a sense of mystery, but the movie kept going back to the well over and over again, which made it feel overused and redundant.

What made it worse was the quick cuts in and out of the main storyline, which felt jarring and took me out of the story. I think Inferno could have been a lot more effective without so many of these visions. Taking some of them out would have been the most obvious way to reduce the runtime and make a much leaner story, but the story really just could have benefited from being refined in any way possible. This story could have worked really well, but it felt really drawn out which made it feel boring at times.

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Pro: Overpopulation (+3pts)

I loved that this movie tried to tackle the issue of overpopulation. I thought Inferno presented this issue very well and Ben Foster nailed his role in setting it up in a believable way. Overpopulation is a very complex issue. It is hard to ignore that it is a growing issue—in some countries far more than others—and it is even harder to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem. I enjoyed seeing this movie trying to address a world issue through the lens of a moral dilemma, so I was pleased with the setup for this movie. Unfortunately, the focus of this story was not on the more thought provoking aspect of this issue, and the ending kind of felt like it let all of the air out of the moral dilemma that Robert Langdon was in. I liked the idea that the filmmakers proposed, but thought they could have done a much better job of giving this dilemma the impact that it deserved.

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Con: The Decision (-5pts)

This was my biggest issue with Inferno. The trailer presented us with a very compelling question regarding overpopulation. The filmmakers setup the issue extremely well—referencing Dante’s Inferno. If you could flip a switch that would kill millions of people now, but not doing so would result in human extinction in 100 years, what would you do?

I may have paraphrased that a bit, but that was essentially what the trailer and setup of this story proposed. I was really looking forward to watching Tom Hanks struggling with the morality of this issue, trying to decide what to do and weighing the guilt of both options. Instead, this movie asked that question, then sort of just forgot about it. It was kind of a bummer. The question was asked, Robert Langdon came to the obvious decision and that was the end of it. The filmmakers had a great moral dilemma within this story, but they definitely dropped the ball with it.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (73pts)

Inferno was the sequel to Angels & Demons, which was a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, and I think this one was the worst of the three. It proposed a truly interesting moral dilemma regarding human overpopulation on earth, but the filmmakers sort of glossed over the issue. They set it up, then shifted the focus of the story to a fairly typical thriller, ignoring the very thought provoking premise that they had established. This plot was not predictable in the sense that you will guess how the mystery ends. While it goes in the overall direction that you would expect it to, the filmmakers went way overboard with the plot twists—to the point where it started to get annoying.

Fortunately, Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones worked well together. They played their characters well, and worked well enough together on screen, but they were not enough to save this movie on their own. There were good, compelling ideas in this movie, but the filmmakers did not do a good job of working those ideas into the story. With plot twists galore, and a plot that still felt very generic, the final chapter of this trilogy ended up being a disappointment.