When The Da Vinci Code film hit theatre ten years ago, it had already become a pop culture phenomenon that got the world thinking about the possibilities that could exist between art and religion and the present day. It used actual existing art and history to push its elaborate plot. Of course, the film couldn’t possibly capture the detail of Dan Brown’s writing, but for what it was, it made for a compelling story.
If you’ve read one Dan Brown book, you’ve got the gist of them all. A super intelligent historically-obsessed antagonist threatens the world and it’s up to Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and his Harvard smarts to solve the very sophisticated puzzle set out before him. I don’t even care. I love them!
Inferno‘s release came three years after the book it stems from. Long enough to remember just some key details, but for the most part, it was fresh. Despite having read the book, some twists came as a surprise, and the convoluted chase that started with a dazed and confused Robert Langdon in a hospital room proves difficult to follow.
In comparing Inferno to The Da Vinci Code or even Angels & Demons, the twists exist for the sake of throwing off or shocking the audience. They’re no stranger to a Dan Brown story, but in Inferno, we’re tangled up with the players, not than the mystery, and too much effort is spent trying to distinguish from the different sides that may or may not be present in the search for the pending end of the world.
It’s somehow less impressive. That the fate of the story lies not in Langdon’s surroundings and his own discoveries, but in the people chasing him. Pretty soon it becomes a typical shoot and run.
But Inferno is still paint-by-numbers Dan Brown. It’s a walking tour through some of the most exquisite museums of Florence. It’s Tom Hanks naming art pieces and drawing associations to historical figures that somehow have links with the pending disaster – in this case, a deadly plague. It’s a romantic relationship that receives more screen time than it should. It should appease fans of Brown’s previous novels and the subsequent films. For anyone else, you’d be better off with The Da Vinci Code, and if you’ve already seen it, you’re golden.