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Tag: Florence

Inferno (2016)

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Quantum of Alzheimer

Paul Langdon (Tom Hanks, his face pinched in a constant frown) is the Benjamin Gates of the semi-litterate, recognising at least that there is an Old World beyond the New, stretching this time to the Sublime Door to Asia. All his work seems to be done in Europe, for the benefit of tour operators and hotel managers so this time, after pilfering Rome for locations we have Florence, a glimpse of Venice and Istambul as the lavish background travelogue of his last PuzzleQuestâ„¢, loosely based on yet another global peril. It’s not anti-matter and/or the Particle of God, it’s the Inferno virus, a radical cure for overpopulation conceived by yet another loosely sketched crazy American billionnaire (Ben Foster as the resident hispter).

There are two divinities poor screenwriters venerate for obvious reasons: Voice-Over, and Amnesia. If Inferno avoids the former, it shamelessly frolicks through the later from its second scene. This is far worse: amnesia can’t be written well, at least not as well as a good voice-over. In parallel there are two ways for poor directors to shoot a scene devoid of any interest or tension: found footage or post-Bourne epileptic editing, one unfortunately not exclusive of the other, as demonstrated by the opening of this movie, far from the quiet, stately boredom of its two predecessors. Here, Ron Howard literaly throws a camera from the top of the Palazzo Vecchio without at any moment feeling the urge to explain its presence. This complete disconnection between form and subject matter is only one of the many problems the casual viewer will be confronted to. But what a delight it is to watch the thing not unfold, but crumple.

Sienna (natch) Brooks (Felicity Jones, here looking more last name than first name) is the 16yo-looking ER doctor saving Langdon from an assassination attempt and helping him to uncover his conveniently erased memories of the two previous days (understand: repetitive cryptic flashbacks and Tom Hanks having a bad case of migraine). Only your not very bright six year old nephew won’t guess that she must have an hidden agenda, considering she’s braving death more than a few times along the way, but let’s not spoil the unspoilable as the dialogue does so good a job at it. But still, she’s very good, that doctor, as she can identify a fragment of human bone from the other side of a room, or knows her Dante by heart (Inferno, Florence, what did you expect?).

Suddenly everyone knows about a McGuffin known as “the Faraday Quantum”, including the Prime Minister of Denmark (the great Sidse Babett Knudsen, of Bergen fame, underused in the role of Elizabeth, an old Langdon flame, rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb), and Omar Sy (a very popular French actor with a very good agent, let’s leave it at that). Obviously there are puzzles inside of riddles, and the mandatory anagram to be cracked. An heavily pregnant museum curator delivers exposition instead of a child, although she, from her own lines, said the exact same thing to Langdon the day before. Langdon himself throws a fit inside the Palazzo Vecchio with nobody around noticing, then demonstrates he has memorized the blueprints of the building for one long, limp chase scene… Oh look, a drone! Needless to say, the whole thing relies heavily of the golden rule that no one ever speaks clearly of anything to anyone, otherwise the movie would be 30′ long.

Based on a plot twist that is too stupid for words, and therefore is never formulated, Inferno really has it all. Academics fluent in medieval Italian but spelling English like retards; hot tempered French police losing their cool; characters popping in and out of screentime for no apparent reason; the end of the world in a plastic bag, avoided by a few seconds; old people emoting in a doorway about what could have been… It’s Inception explained to your grandmother, a terminal case of cinematographic Alzheimer: at its closing scene, Inferno literaly wets itself. Love, real or professed, is not an excuse for poor preparation and the lack of sense: what’s true for the villain’s plot is also true for the movie itself. Please, Dan, Ron, pretty please, stop, you are way to old for this s**t.

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