Originally published on Moviepilot.com
Inferno doesn’t have a fiery pit or a Hell filled with tormented souls; neither does it have a Devil, nor pools of fire. It does have an accelerating thrill ride that will keep you on the tip of your toes for two hours. Once again, Ron Howard feeds us excellency through his interpretations of Dan Brown’s historical fantasies. The Da Vinci Code may have started us off, but Inferno is the movie that will have Sony telling Brown to keep writing novels so that Howard can keep making movies — Robert Langdon must continue.
(Note: Spoilers for Inferno to follow)
We do see Hell visually, in the form of Robert Langdon’s (Tom Hanks) dreams. Hell is a treasure map, build upon the idea of Dante Alighieri’s "Inferno," a section from his epic poem, "Divine Comedy." The treasure map is an anagram scattered through Sandro Boticelli’s La Mappa dell' Inferno painting and Dante’s Death Mask (which Langdon stole), and like in The Da Vinci Code, Inferno centers on the historical basis of the timeless art pieces. From the beginning we are hooked. Inferno doesn’t fail in telling us “what the hell is going on,” as we instantly find out that the title of the movie refers to a terrorist plot involving a biological weapon.
The mastermind behind the plot is a billionaire-playboy-genius-transhumanist (Ben Foster) with an odd obsession with history, death and humanity’s extinction. Within this intricate death plot is of course, professor Robert Langdon, who finds himself in Florence after supposedly getting grazed by a bullet. To his care is Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), who is the movie’s most valuable player, as well as the most unpredictable character since Marcus and Mike from 1995’s Bad Boys.
Unpredictability is good and Felicity Jones was the golden key. Often happens in mystery thrillers, it is easy and sometimes highly predictable to figure out what is going to happen next. This was not the case in Inferno. While at points it was clear where the movie and certain characters were heading, Felicity Jones strikes like a whip. It is not until a specific moment in the movie that it instantly hits you: “Wow, I did not expect that!” Additionally, while Omar Sy was revealed to be the dirty cop of this tale, his unpredictable nature prevailed, as I was constantly debating whether he was good or evil. Trust, followed by passion, was the moral of the story.
After a ballad of trust issues between key characters, the World Health Organization and a security company that “doesn’t exist” (led by Irrfan Khan) aid Langdon in his search for the bio weapon (Inferno). Leading the WHO is Elizabeth Sinskey (Westworld’s Sidse Babett Knudsen). In Langdon’s dream she is Satan. But this is just as an allusion as it is an illusion. It may be for a short duration of the film, but Sinskey and Langdon have a passionate connection.
They belong for each other, but other passions stand in the way. Sinskey may love Langdon, but her heart is at the WHO. Likewise for Langdon, as much as he hates the bruising and the bleeding, he can’t deny that he loves embarking in life-threatening adventures involving symbology and historical figures, even if those adventures are just in the comfort of a college campus. Langdon wants love and solace with Sinskey, but like a Devil’s offer, it is a deal he simply can’t succumb to with a signature of blood. Inferno is not a love story, but the theme is definitely there, as we also experienced it through Felicity Jones and Ben Foster’s characters.
Sienna Brooks was the principal villain of the story and her passion for Zobrist (Ben Foster) was priceless. Love existed between the doctor and the billionaire, but it was that passionate connection that led Brooks towards a fiery execution. When Zobrist killed himself to preserve the location of Inferno, he willed his trust to Brooks to finish the mission, and she didn’t hesitate.
Together with unpredictability, strength of character and uncanny beauty, Felicity Jones as Brooks not only surprised us all as to her intentions, but actually made us hope that she succeeded. Disaster movies are abundant in today’s day and age, but we haven’t actually seen the apocalypse come to fruition on screen, to the extent that the villains in the story want it to. This guilty feeling was provoked in Inferno, but at the same time, weirdly enough, we also wanted Langdon to succeed and stop the apocalypse from occurring. The latter was felt the most, but Brook’s suicide was heart-breaking even to Langdon.
In the end, Langdon came back to Florence and returned Dante’s Death Mask to the Palazzo Vecchio. We discovered that he wasn’t grazed by a bullet, but that he was actually a player of Extreme Kidnapping. Trust and passion brought Inferno’s characters to their knees, and for some, to their unfortunate end. Ron Howard’s Inferno was an astonishing sequel, and it would be a disappointment if we don’t see Robert Langdon back in action several times more.