“Inferno” is a globe-trotting adventure starring a beloved actor in a franchise that feels like it’s run its course.
Returning as expert symbologist Robert Langdon, Tom Hanks spends two hours getting chased, tortured, shot at and beaten up as he saves the world again in this third adaptation of a Dan Brown thriller novel.
The followup to the dreary “The Da Vinci Code” and the more watchable but ludicrous “Angels & Demons,” “Inferno” begins with our hero suffering from amnesia after waking up in a hospital in Florence, Italy. He’s got a serious head wound and no clue how he even got to Italy.
Langdon is clearly caught up in some kind of dangerous situation, and when someone starts shooting at him in the hospital, he escapes with his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a wunderkind who as a kid was a fan of Langdon, in tow.
From there, they have to use their knowledge of Dante’s “Inferno” to stop a madman’s plot to wipe out the majority of the world’s population.
There is a lot going on here — far too much, in fact, with at least one thread left dangling at the end of the film. It’s kind of the modus operandi for this franchise: dense, twisting plots and someone proclaiming “Trust no one!” because sure enough, friends become enemies, enemies become friends and only someone with an intimate knowledge of iconography can save the day. All this takes place in exotic locales such as Florence, Venice and Istanbul. (As travelogues, the films are far more successful.)
Ron Howard, who certainly has a fine résumé of films, goes through every gimmick and cliché in conveying Langdon’s memory loss, from flickering flashbacks to creepy hallucinations.
In terms of the action scenes, Howard is able to deliver some good, tense moments, and he does the best he can with the meandering story — brought to the big screen by veteran writer David Koepp (everything from “Jurassic Park” to “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”) — that introduces some out-of-left-field ideas that would spoil the story to reveal. But rest assured, the great Irrfan Khan, playing the rare fun character in this franchise, arrives from the most absurd of situations.
Brown, for sure, will keep churning out new adventures of Langdon doing exceptional things with his big brain — he’s already announced that the fifth book in the series, “Origin,” is coming in September 2017. (“Inferno” is the fourth book, and the third, “The Lost Symbol,” has yet to be adapted, thankfully.)
But as a film franchise, this series is so tapped out emotionally that it’s ready to be laid to rest. Put simply, “Inferno” is burned out.