Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Inferno

Tom Hanks is back as the world’s nerdiest hero in “Inferno,” the third installment in the popular franchise based on books by Dan Brown.

Brown’s creation, Professor Robert Langdon, is an expert symbologist, which I have to say, in the hands of a versatile actor such as Hanks, is a lot cooler than it sounds. The movie, much like its predecessors (“The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels & Demons”), contains lot of advanced puzzle solving, racing from location to location—this time in Florence, Italy—a pinch of drama, and a decent dose of action. While Langdon would handily lose in a one on one fight with archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones, I’m sure his life is much more adventurous than the average university professor’s.

When the action focuses on Langdon, his new partner in puzzle solving Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), and their race against time to stop the spread of a deadly virus by a man named Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), “Inferno” pulsates with energy. Three movies later, it’s still a joy to accompany Langdon along on his adventures and see what he is going to uncover next that was buried for centuries in famous and well known buildings.

Where the movie gets muddled is in the introduction of The Consortium. The head of this company is a man named Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan). While I like the character of Sims and find Khan incredibly witty and charming in the role, I had a hard time reckoning his true purpose in this movie. He seemed superfluous, and what’s worse, his motivations for his actions are extremely unclear. This wouldn’t be such a tragedy if Sims didn’t play such an important role in key events in the movie, but why? I mean that both in terms of why does he do what he does, and why is he even there? Perhaps there are plans to continue on with The Consortium in future movies, so there is the need to establish this organization now. However, if this is the case, it should have been handled in a much more deferential way. Either have The Consortium’s agenda be made clear, or don’t introduce them at all. As it stands, their purpose in “Inferno” seems only to be to muddy the waters and have Sims serve as a deus ex machina when it’s convenient for the plot.

Speaking of plot, that is one of the brighter points of the movie. Much like last week’s pick, “The Girl on the Train,” “Inferno” does an incredible job at unfolding and revealing information vital to Langdon’s story at just the right times. We first see Langdon in a hospital bed, with a head wound, being tended to by Dr. Brooks. He has amnesia and occasionally gets flashbacks to what are either memories of something dreadful, or a hellish vision. The twists, turns, and revelations may not be all that Earth-shaking, and one major twist in particular is somewhat predictable, but this is a movie that keeps you engaged, right along with Langdon, in trying to piece together the puzzles set before him—his mind included.

We also get to see some of the personal details and background history of Langdon’s life, which helps ground the character and make him more human and not just a symbology/cryptography wiz. Saying too much about how this information comes about would give away too much about the plot, but suffice it to say, there are some tender, melancholy moments to be had in “Inferno.”

While “Inferno” may be a bit overstuffed with a little too much going on, it delivers what fans of the Langdon series expect. There are clues to gather, puzzles to solve, evil forces to outwit, and a world to save. Why would you want to pass that up? Rent it.

More New Releases: “The Light Between Oceans, about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who raise a baby they find in a row boat, starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz; “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage,” starring Nicolas Cage and about the real life ordeal of the battleship crew who had to survive in shark-infested waters for five days in the Philippine Sea after they delivered the atomic bomb that ended World War II; “The Monster,” about a mother and daughter who have to battle a vicious creature after breaking down on a deserted road, starring Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine; and “Blood Rage,” cheesy ‘80s slasher schlock—with a standout performance from Louise Lasser that is much better than the movie warrants—about a teen boy named Todd (Mark Soper) who is blamed for murders committed by his maniacal twin (Soper again).

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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