Ron Howard’s Inferno can be recommended for the opportunity it offers to avoid reading the Dan Brown novel on which it’s based. Brown’s bestseller, another exercise in his trademark verbal incontinence and wooden characterizations, would seem to defy cinematic adaptation and, as we see here, actually does. Director Howard, in his third go-round with Brown’s tepid hero, the “Harvard symbologist” Robert Langdon, has attempted to rein in the author’s wandering plot and gushers of babble; but trimming and compressing them has only added to the story’s incoherence.
Langdon (Tom Hanks again) is back in Italy, this time waking up in a Florence hospital with a head wound and no idea where he is—the last thing he remembers is being at home in Cambridge a few days earlier. Attending physician and requisite brainy babe Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) sympathizes, but before she can be much help an assassin called Vayentha (Ana Ularu) storms in and starts shooting up the ER. Langdon and Sienna flee, an activity which will consume most of their time for the rest of the movie, writes Kurt Loder.