Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard’s third collaboration of bringing Dan Brown’s puzzle-solver Robert Langdon to the screen, Inferno is a routine thriller filled with excellent performances from its international cast, but struggles to build any tension or suspense.
The Production: 3/5
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) awakens in a Florence, Italy hospital with a deep cut in his scalp, a splitting headache, no memory of where he’s been or how he got there, and visions of the world descending into hell. His doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), is examining him, telling him that he arrived with no wallet or identification, but she recognized him from a lecture of his she attended when she was a young child. A female police officer, Vayentha (Ana Ularu), enters the hospital, firing at anyone who gets in her way as she approaches Langdon’s room. Sienna helps Langdon escape, eventually hiding out in her apartment. As Langdon goes through his personal belongings, he comes across a bio tube containing a Faraday pointer imprinted with a painting of Botticelli’s Map of Hell, a depiction of Dante’s Inferno. But the painting has been altered to include an anagram, revealing clues to the location of a virus invented by billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) that he plans to unleash on the world to wipe out nearly half the population as a way to “thin the herd” and save the world from overpopulation. Can Langston regain his memory and solve the clues to find the virus in time, before the multitude of people chasing him find it, each having their own agenda?
Director Ron Howard, who directed the two previous Dan Brown adaptations The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, does manage to keep the film moving at a brisk pace, but unfortunately never really builds up any tension or suspense. I never really felt Langdon or the world for that matter where in any real sense of danger, much of that can be attributed to the source material’s (and David Koepp’s screenplay) leaps of logic and unbelievable twists (although some you see coming a mile away). Hanks is terrific, as always, as Langdon, the smartest man in the room who has an everyman’s quality to him, which helps make him easily accessible to the audience. Felicity Jones, who had a terrific 2016 with this film and Rogue One, is believable as the young doctor who has almost as vast a knowledge of Dante as Langdon. Ben Foster, who also had a terrific 2016 with Hell or High Water and Warcraft, is wasted in the role of the villain, if you can call him that, since his character of Zobrist commits suicide in the movie’s opening minutes and is seen almost exclusively in flashbacks and YouTube videos. Sidse Babett Knudsen is interesting as Elizabeth Sinskey, the lead investigator for the World Health Organization, but her character has little to no chemistry with Langdon, making their supposed history unbelievable. It is Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi), though, who almost steals the movie as the mysterious Harry Sims, who is intelligent and deadly, leading the audience to not entirely trust him as either a good guy or bad guy.
3D Rating: NA
Inferno was captured digitally at 3.4K on the Arri Alexa XT and at 6K on the Red Epic Dragon, but completed as a 2K digital intermediate. Sony has upscaled the DI to 2160p and color graded using HDR for this release, allowing for a subtle but noticeable difference from its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart. Colors appear more natural with more gradations in tone. Fine detail is improved, particularly in the textures of the stone buildings and artwork as part of its international locations, but also in flesh tones and facial textures, revealing subtle but natural imperfections in the actors’ faces. Contrast is strong, providing deep blacks while retaining fine shadow detail.
In typical Sony fashion, while the Blu-ray gets a standard DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, the 4K UHD Blu-ray of Inferno is treated with a Dolby Atmos track (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core). Even when when played back on non-Atmos equipment with speakers in a 5.1 configuration with additional front heights and Pro-Logic IIz enabled, this is a much more immersive mix tahn what is included on the Blu-ray. Key moments are the use of a drone that flies around the room and overhead, and pinpointed atmospheric sounds such as birds, city noises, and alarm sirens. Hans Zimmer’s score envelops the listener, emanating from all channels. LFE is also much more prevalent without ever feeling too boomy. What seals the deal here is that dialogue is consistently clear and understandable, never getting lost in the mix.
Special Features: 3/5
All of the special features can be found exclusively on the included Blu-ray edition of the film.
Extended and Deleted Scenes (1080p; 27:19): Extended Opening – Langdon’s Visions of Hell, Langdon and Sienna Flee the Hospital, Zobrist’s Full Length Overpopulation Speech, No Police, Chase Through Boboli Gardens, Sims Races to Florence, and Extended Ending – Life Pulls Us Apart Again.
Visions of Hell (1080p; 5:35): The author, Dan Brown, along with the cast and crew, discuss the darker elements of this story as well as how Dante’s Inferno plays an important part in the story.
Inferno Around the World (1080p; 13:34): A look at the international cast and locations.
A Look at Langdon (1080p; 6:21): A character study of Robert Langdon, as seen through the three films so far.
This is Sienna Brooks (1080p; 5:48): A look at the character and the actress who plays her.
The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist (1080p; 5:13): A look at the film’s mostly absent villain.
Ron Howard, A Director’s Journal (1080p; 10:02): The film’s director uses social media to document his involvement in the making of the movie.
Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy through Ultraviolet partners. If redeemed through Sonypictures.com, users get access to a streaming UHD version of the film on Sony 4K UHD televisions.
The movie, Inferno, may be routine, but the audio and video will not disappoint fans who have a UHD home theater setup with Atmos (or even those with Pro-Logic IIz).