By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
It has been a whole decade since Dan Brown’s controversial novel “The Da Vinci Code” made its way to the big screen. Beloved actor Tom Hanks portrayed the protagonist, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, on a quest to find answers on an unknown murder, cryptic clues and a 2,000-year-old secret which could shake the foundation of Christianity. Ten years later and a follow-up film, “Angels and Demons,” in the bag, we have the newest installment in Brown’s series, “Inferno.” Arguably as exhilarating and mind-boggling as Brown’s series inception, the thriller is sure to spark some religious commentary and induce bloodrush.
Awakening in a hospital room in Italy, Langdon has retrograde amnesia. With no recollection of where he is or why he’s there, he is left panicking and suffering disturbing visions of biblical-esque imagery, including rivers of blood. It’s not long before his prodigy Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) helps him escape and tells him that he’s being hunted down by various groups, including the World Health Organization, for he is in possession of an object that’s crucial to unveiling where a plague of global proportions is about to hit.
Following the death of psychotic billionaire Zobrist (Bill Foster) are a trail of clues revolving around Dante’s Inferno, and, of course, Langdon is the only man who can stop the mass extinction of half of the human race that Zobrist had planned to execute in his “Divine Comedy.”
As clues are revealed through Dante’s writings, as well as several of his art pieces, there are more twists continually added to the scenario at hand, and it’s easy for viewers to keep focus with so much new information being thrown in their faces.
Throughout Langdon deciphering anagrams and brisk transitions through beautiful locations in Europe, not to mention famous paintings and sculptures, the film nary loses its brisk pace. The mesmerizing soundtrack compositions by Hans Zimmer, who notably arranged the scores for films such as “Interstellar,” help create a feeling of urgency to the film’s frantic nature.
Hank’s portrayal of Langdon is as authentic and captivating as any character he has ever done. He effortlessly makes it seem that Langdon is always one-step ahead of everyone else on screen, while doing a believable job presenting Langdon as an accessible, everyday guy.
One of the few downsides to the film is that other characters, including Brooks and Zobrist, are less incorporated in the film. Albeit, Hanks is the star and the film revolves around his amnesia-laced attempts to save the world, so this can be forgiven.
The depictions of what the world will become following the spread of this plague, its mirroring of how Dante depicted hell to be, is sure to rile up devout believers in a similar manner to how “The Da Vinci Code” stirred up the Catholic demographic through its tellings of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This history, and its often entwined historical fiction, is all the more reason to be intrigued.
At its core, “Inferno” follows suit with “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons.” A race against time, the film highlights interesting historical context and blends it with shootouts and chase scenes galore. Many will likely think “Inferno” is a rehashed thriller on Hank’s behalf, but the film still has its bright spots: pulsating action, mystery and all-around beautiful camera aesthetic. “Inferno” will leave viewers feeling like they just left a high-speed car chase, all while getting a lesson in classical art and literary works. Third time’s the charm.