Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
Lisa: I like...Langdon Alger.
Homer: I have no idea who that is.
Lisa: Nobody does! He's very quiet and enjoys puzzles.
Brief Plot Synopsis: We're all gonna die. Well, half of us anyway.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Dantes out of five.
Tagline: "His greatest challenge. Humanity's last hope."
Better Tagline: "Humanity's overrated, really."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Most folks waking up in an Italian hospital with a gunshot wound to the head would be given some time to convalesce, at least until the hallucinations and amnesia subside. Unfortunately for Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), bad hombres are trying to kill him and/or swipe his cool miniature projector with an image of Botticelli's Map of Hell. The image contains clues to the whereabouts of a deadly virus planted by Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), a genius billionaire with...unusual ideas about population control. Together with the doctor who saved his life (Felicity Jones), Langdon must use his eidetic memory and vast knowledge of history to save the world instead of going on Jeopardy! and making some real money.
"Critical" Analysis: Tom Hanks is, by all indications, a delightful person. His talk show interviews, Saturday Night Live appearances and penchant for photobombing all paint a portrait of a self-deprecating, friendly guy with a surprisingly robust sense of humor. And it's to the discredit of director Ron Howard, screenwriter David Koepp and Columbia Pictures in general that none of this comes through in any of the Robert Langdon movies.
Inferno is the third movie based on Dan Brown's erudite Harvard professor, and while it's not quite the most forgettable (that would be Angels and Demons), it's mildly interesting at best, farcical at worst. Perpetual Langdon director Howard uses his main character's apparent head wound to explain away a great deal of his stupid behavior, most significantly: not bothering to question why an evil genius is bothering to leave an apparent trail of clues to stop his diabolical scheme.
Zobrist extensively quotes Dante, whose works just happen to be Langdon's forte, and that's merely one of the hilariously annoying coincidences at play in Inferno. Also, for someone who's spent a good deal of his adult life trying to escape sinister cabals, Langdon displays a maddening tendency to leave secret doors open behind him. He and Dr. Brooks (Jones) also appear incapable of walking past a window or gate in anything but the most conspicuous way possible, which is certainly helpful to their pursuers.
We should also probably scratch that "eidetic memory" thing, because there's a scene where Langdon and Brooks are forced to Google a Dante quote. This is actually comforting — in a way — because it means the Dan Brown movies have now officially moved into the early 21st century.
And let's hear it for the World Health Organization, an entity (in the Langdon-verse, that is) that commands its own air force and foot soldiers and also apparently enjoys jurisdiction over every law enforcement agency in the world. It also happens to he headed up by a former love interest of the professor's (played with thankless aplomb by Sidse Babett Knudsen). WHO knew?
Thing is, Zobrist's concerns about population growth aren't unfounded, even if his math is wrong (32 billion people by 2050?). Mankind is doing incalculable harm to the environment and other species, yet he swan dives into Wile E. Coyote levels of villainy with a plan to eradicate half the world's population with the "Inferno" virus he created ("Humanity is the disease; Inferno is the cure." Take that, Vic Cobretti!). All right under the noses of the all-powerful World Health Organization and two steps ahead of the sinister "Consortium."
The Consortium, an off-the-grid global security concern operating out of a supertanker (don't ask), is backing Zobrist's efforts in the hopes of auctioning the virus off to the highest bidder, but that's not important. The head — or "Provost" — of the Consortium is the sardonic, ancient dagger-wielding Mr. Sims, played by Irrfan Khan. Witheringly sarcastic to subordinates, happy to flip loyalties on a dime, and otherwise just hilarious (of a staged crime scene: "Not my best work, but it'll do for the Italians."), he's pretty much the only reason to watch this movie.
Needless to say, it's not enough. Hanks may be bankable (Hankable?) as ever, and as long as Brown keeps churning these books out and Howard and Hanks feel like spending a few months in Europe's top tourist destinations (think of them as the Royal Caribbean to Adam Sandler's "booze cruise"), there are movies to be made, but just because you don't buy tickets won't mean the end of the world.
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