dir Ron Howard
scr David Koepp
prd Michael De Luca, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Andrea Giannetti
with Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Cesare Cremonini, Xavier Laurent, Ida Darvish, Fausto Maria Sciarappa, Jon Donahue
release UK 14.Oct.16, US 28.Oct.16
16/US Columbia 2h01
Lovely location: Hanks and Jones

foster sy khan
The Da Vinci Code (2006) Angels & Demons (2009)
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Inferno Dan Brown has cobbled together another novel about academic hero Robert Langdon, so naturally Ron Howard and Tom Hanks reteam to bring it to the big screen. But everything about this movie feels badly contrived, from the feeble attempt to recreate that clue-hunting structure to the half-hearted action scenes. Even Hanks looks bored this time around, only sparking some cursory chemistry with his costars.

Waking up in a Florence hospital with a head injury, Robert (Hanks) has no idea why he's in Italy or why a cat-suited cop (Ularu) is after him. His doctor, Sienna (Jones), helps him escape and piece together recent events. But Officer Slinky is still after him, as are goons led by Christoph (Sy), a World Health Organisation official (Knudsen) and a filthy-rich businessman (Khan). Robert traces this to the late billionaire anarchist Bertrand (Foster), who wanted to purge half of mankind by releasing a virus. And he travels to Venice and Istanbul seeking answers.

Koepp's script dives into the action but quickly gets bogged down in far too much expository dialog. The ropey plot sends our hero after a series of hints that are stubbornly bereft of logic. Frankly, if you're trying to kill half of the earth's population, why would launch your terrorist strike as a scavenger hunt? At least the characters are all so shifty that it takes a while to work out who's trustworthy (and even then, we wonder).

Hanks coasts through the role, revealing flashes of wit, but not many. He and Knudsen share some wry, world-weary camaraderie, but Jones is wasted in a thankless female sidekick role as a doctor who knows a little too much about antiquities and subterfuge. Foster gets remarkably high billing for a guy who dies in the film's opening moments and then only appears in ludicrously romanticised flashbacks. Even in ill-defined roles, Sy and Khan brighten things up considerably whenever they're around.

After the rapid-fire faux braininess of The Da Vinci Code and the silly action of Angels & Demons, this feels contractually obligated to fill out the trilogy box set. It might work as vacuous entertainment, but it never gets the blood pumping because the action is so chaotically shot and edited. All that's left is a series of lovely backgrounds as the film crew passes through Florence, Venice and Istanbul. But it's a bit soul destroying to think about how much money was spend making this limp thriller.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 10.Oct.16

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