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'Inferno' singes Hanks record of entertaining movies
Whats in with Justin
Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon, a Harvard symbologist, in "Inferno." - photo by Studio photo

"Inferno" is the third installment of Dan Brown’s popular series after "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons."

In the 10 years I’ve been a film critic, I haven’t given a Tom Hanks movie a negative review. Now, however, I’m sad to report that track record, as well as my heart, is now broken. This latest entry proves to be a messy, chaotic, incomprehensible disaster.

Hanks returns as Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist who wakes up in a Florence hospital after suffering a bout of amnesia. He’s tended to by a female doctor (Felicity Jones) and then soon discovers he’s a target for assassination. The two escape the hospital and prowl around Italy, trying to understand why someone wants Langdon dead.

When the doctor finds Langdon’s belongings, she finds an object that contains an image of Dante’s Inferno, the modern concept of Hell itself. They later discover that a secret organization is planning to disperse a virus that will exterminate the world’s population.

Ben Foster plays a geneticist who comes up with the virus, believing that overpopulation is the result of the world’s many problems.

Langdon’s troubles are further deepened when he becomes a suspect in stealing Dante’s death mask. This, of course, leads to chases throughout the country with time out for needlessly complicated exposition the characters think is a lot more believable than we do.

Director Ron Howard has done great films before and no doubt will do more, but he should stay far away from this series now. I didn’t think the first two movies were great, but they were preposterously entertaining enough.

This one just turns up the heat by being frenetically fast-paced and, despite that, it does so much and yet so little of interest actually happens.

I think it’s appropriate that this movie centers on Dante’s "Inferno" because this film, in terms of its execution, would be close to the seventh circle.

Last week, Tom Cruise gave us a subpar film with "Jack Reacher." Now its Tom Hanks giving us something that is a very unfortunate misfire in his otherwise extraordinary career.

Grade: D

Rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality.

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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