Inferno marks the third (and hopefully final) chapter in the screen adapted Dan Brown (author)/Robert Langdon (character) novels, best known for The Da Vinci Code. To be clear straight away, I do not hope that this is the last in fear that a cash-grab sequel would somehow besmirch the good Langdon name, or a well-intended prequel creates plot holes in the solid foundational mythos of the original trilogy. No, I hope that this is the last Dan Brown adaptation because it already has all of those issues: it's a soulless cash grab which introduces weird continuity issues to those that came before. In short, it's pretty awful.
The plot is messy and poorly conceived. What made both the Da Vinci Code and subsequent sequel Angels & Demons fun to watch was the 'clever' (I use the term lightly) use of symbology and conspiracy theory to weave an intricate and twisting plot. In stark contrast, Inferno has perhaps two, maybe three scenes focusing on arcane artistic or cultural information and a plot that flip-flops between being highly predictable and utterly opaque. The latter isn't due to poor scripting issues like withholding key information but rather terrible scripting issues like suddenly introducing entire organisations to play a single, pivotal role and then be forgotten, or to explain away inconsistencies in 'twists' after the fact. Why is a global, private spy network included here? It serves no purpose except to retroactively enable the nurse's introduction to be 'plausible' (again, used lightly) and then save Langdon from an antagonist who, himself, is utterly unnecessary.
Aside from meaningless characters seemingly introduced purely to bulk out run time, the rest of the plot appears to have been cribbed directly from rejected Mission Impossible, Jason Bourne, or Bond concepts. Evil megalomaniac decides to unleash bioengineered plague on the world to cull humanity and prevent ecological disaster: how is this a Robert Langdon story? Where are the centuries-old mysteries? The ancient cults? The theological quandaries? I guess there's the tacked on associations with Dante, but tacked on is an overstatement. Oh really, are the extremely obvious additional letters added to the Circles of Hell an anagram? Who would have guessed! And it needs to be viewed through the eyes of death in the museum that has Dante's death mask? What could that possibly mean?
And why is Langdon even involved? Sure, the hyper militarised W.H.O (seriously, do they genuinely have access to this much firepower?) asked him to come on board for reasons which we're never told, then end up treating him like public enemy number on. Which in itself doesn't make sense when their chief officer directly witnesses his abduction (and proves herself – an arms-carrying officer of a military unit with high tech gadgets – completely inept in doing so). But why does the unnamed, completely redundant private spy agency even keep him around? What they need is in his pocket and was never intended for Langdon to solve. We see countless flashbacks letting us know Felicity Jones' character is a genius who specialises both in Dante and puzzle-solving; we also see that her billionaire lover isn't very good at setting puzzles. Combine these two things with the fact that this puzzle was designed for her to solve and, once again, why do they need Langdon? If she's just going to ditch him later on why not just drug him and leave him in an alleyway.
At this point I have written far too much about a film which has very little substance, almost non-existent characterisation or story development, a terrible plot and absolutely none of the elements that the few remaining fans of these books would want. The acting isn't bad, though there aren't any memorable performances either, and the action is paced well enough. The problem is, most of the action is just chase sequences, which Tom Hanks isn't exactly well built for. He just slopes along and "uses his immense knowledge" (apparently he's now a savant with an eidetic memory) to know the hidden street plans to every city in the world, but these are not factors that make for good action scenes. Again, give this plot to Bourne or Bond (though it's probably too cheesy for either) and it may work but that's not the point of Langdon. Oh, plus, for added mystery, we spend a huge amount of the film getting dream sequences leaving "clues" for Langdon to solve the next part of the puzzle. The problem is, half of these clues are things he could not have known when he was initially drugged. It also seems like an odd side effect for a drug to have which was intended to make him malleable but still useful, not trapped in a living nightmare of contorted souls, plague eaters and tidal waves of blood.
Which is to say, Inferno is dumb, bad and boring, even by the standards of its predecessors. Definitely recommend a hard miss, no matter how big of a Dan Brown or Tom Hanks fan you might be. Honestly, the only single redeeming factor to the film was that it was nice seeing Felicity Jones in something not Star Wars related and Irrfan Khan being his usual super-cool self, even if both were largely wasted on the roles they were placed in.