Less than two months after the release of "Sully", Tom Hanks is already back on the big screen. He reprises his role as Professor Robert Langdon in “Inferno”, the third installment in director Ron Howard’s “Da Vinci Code” franchise. That film came-out a decade ago, and prequel “Angels & Demons” hit theaters in ‘09. Normally, a series gap this large isn’t a good sign - but even if you haven’t seen the two previous films, “Inferno” is a solid, standalone piece of guilty-pleasure entertainment.
Howard hooks us right away. Following a nice opening chase scene involving characters who we don’t know - but will, we get Langdon waking-up in a hospital in Florence, Italy, badly bleeding and unable to remember how he got there. A young doctor, Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones) informs Langdon that he suffered a gunshot wound in an assassination attempt. Soon, a hit-woman disguised as a police officer shows up and tries to finish the job - and another chase begins.
Slowly Langdon’s memory starts to return, and the pair figure-out that Langdon’s been drawn into the scheme of a madman who’s planning to use a dirty bomb to wipe-out half of the world’s population. - and it’s up to the professor and young doctor to keep that from happening.
Of course the premise is both ridiculous and overdone. You know the outcome before stepping one foot into the theater. But the strength of the movie is the journey, and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable one. Hanks and Jones make for a great pair - a Holmes & Watson of sorts for a new generation. Their chemistry carries you along as they take us to a variety of picturesque locations and inside some of Europe’s most cherished museums, trying to solve a life-and-death puzzle, centered around Dante and his classic work.
A big twist comes from out of nowhere, but, like the entire script, it all makes sense. Howard and screenwriter David Koepp include some valid commentary on modern society and the tendency of some to be seduced by those with loud voices and charisma, even if they’re wackos.
At times there’s simply too much action going on at once. But with Hanks in one of his many comfort zones, rising star Jones alongside, a great look and a modern “whodunit” script, “Inferno” ascends into quality viewing territory.