By: Felix Felicis (Five Beers)-
Cards on the table, Boozers, I write all my reviews anywhere from a little bit buzzed to “Corey Feldman is kind of cute” levels of drunk. When screening Tom Cruise’s a-meh-zing antics in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back last week I thought I couldn’t crawl any deeper into the vodka bottle, but after sitting down to Dan Brown’s latest franchise flick installment in the geriatric thriller genre and Da Vinci Code series, Inferno (I’m assuming so named because of the urge to light your own face on fire afterward), I was wrong. So wrong. So, so wrong. This hot mess joins the hallowed halls of a rarefied pantheon, that’s right, guys, Inferno now sits on the shelf right next to 2013’s Escape From Earth in the “Movies That Have Actually Made Me Fall Asleep” corner of my mind.
Don’t get me wrong here, Tom Hanks is my bae (and a national goddamned treasure) who could ride the coattails of Big for the rest of his life and still have enough street cred as David S. Pumpkins to get my ass in a seat no matter what film he’s acting in BUT SWEET BABY JESUS THIS WAS A SNOOZEFEST. Okay, let’s break this down for anyone not totally familiar with Dan Brown’s franchise flicks. We first meet professor of religious iconography and symbology, Robert Langdon, in 2006’s Da Vinci Code as he solves the millennia-old riddle of the Holy Grail before moving on to save the Vatican from a scheming madman in 2009’s Angels & Demons only to surface in time to try and rescue humanity from a doomsday overpopulationist zealot alongside Rogue One’s Felicity Jones in this year’s Inferno. Picture a super obscure, religion and history-oriented National Treasure-esque vibe and you’ve pretty much nailed Dan Brown’s niche demographic.
Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones are both incredibly talented actors, but Inferno was a bus no one could save from driving, on fire, off that cliff of mediocrity no matter how hard they tried. Shout out to Get Over It’s Ben Foster for a brief, fleeting glimpse into an interesting adversary before almost immediately swan diving into the deep end of the predictable antagonist pool once his (super obvious) motives were revealed. Unlike last week’s Jack Reacher 2, the cast of Inferno were giving it their best efforts and I can’t fault them there.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, we have GOT to start regulating the sedated-hamster-screenwriting union or future films will continue to suffer from a lack of inspired, nay, COHERENT plot points and character arcs. Get a blender. Toss in some flimsy opening sequences, a copy of Dante’s Inferno, shoddy scientific reasoning, and a bunch of kale (for extra fiber) and hit “Extra Dicey”. Congrats, you’ve just filmed Inferno. Even when conscious, nothing in Inferno made sense from choppy opening intros to character motivations to super vague plot justifications only rivaled by even vaguer scientific reasoning.
Elements of each film in the franchise have changed and varied movie-to-movie but the two constants in the Da Vinci series has been director Ron Howard and screenwriters Akiva Goldsman (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons) and David Koepp (Angels & Demons, Inferno). I will say that Ron Howard managed to convey a consistent tone throughout the series, but with each adaptation getting shittier and shittier (like every xeroxed generation of the Kardashian clan has) that’s not exactly a crackerjack prize. Da Vinci Code was moderately intriguing in a religiously heavy-handed kind of way, but the co-written Angels & Demons was only a mild blip on the cinematic EKG.
The solo screenplay sojourn by Koepp in the franchise absolutely tanks without (I’m assuming) the mitigating influence of quality brought to the table previously by Goldsman. I mean, they could pull a Fast franchise reboot shakeup out of the hat next time around, but (due to the fact that Boo! A Madeo Halloween is still squatting at the top of the box office earnings list) even if we repeatedly shake that movie Magic 8 Ball, outlook seems grim.
I don’t know where things started going horribly wrong in Inferno, but I can absolutely state that they weren’t fixed in post-production. The editing in this geriatric thriller is choppier than the bangs given to me before a ninth grade dance by a Super Cuts stylist who didn’t UNDERSTAND THAT TRIM NO BANGS DOES NOT MEAN CHOP OFF FIVE INCHES AND GIVE ME BANGS. Much like the back of my eyelids during some of Inferno, that was a very dark time for me. The result of a scrambled plot, weak characters, and logical reasoning so inconsistent it had to wear Depends was a movie falling apart at the seams so badly even Frankenstein’s monster wouldn’t give it a poke with someone else’s dick.
While skirting the line between merely mediocre and barely-bad, Inferno unfortunately gets dinged an extra beer for it’s coma-inducing lack of excitement (I literally fell asleep. TWICE). If you have someone in your life looking for a pacemaker-friendly thrill or just needs a solid ninety minute nap… Well then have I got the flick for you, friend!
In the immortal words of Pink regarding whether or not you should go see Inferno: “Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough.”
But I can’t. Not a lot, not a little, not at all.
Inferno (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every blurry cam/LSD dream state/flashback.
Take a Sip: whenever a clue is solved and/or for each major epiphany.
Do a Shot: for each amnesia callout.
Shotgun Your Beer: when there’s no boom boom in the red room.