Epic disaster

The Da Vinci Code series fizzles out

Starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones. Directed by Ron Howard. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 1.0

I’m partially grateful for the existence of Inferno, director Ron Howard’s latest installment in his Da Vinci Code film series. Without Inferno, Tom Hanks would’ve had no reason to be out promoting a movie around Halloween time, and he wouldn’t have stopped by Saturday Night Live to host the show for a ninth time. While there, he performed in an instantly classic, totally bizarre Halloween sketch as David S. Pumpkins, a weirdo in a haunted-house elevator ride accompanied by two b-boy skeletons.

But that’s it. That’s the only reason I am grateful for the existence of Inferno: David S. Pumpkins.

The film itself is easily the worst of the series. Hanks returns as Robert Langdon, something the beloved American actor shouldn’t have had to do. This series needed to be put down after the first installment.

In this one, Langdon wakes up in a hospital room with a bullet scratch on his head and loss of memory, and Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) is there to help out. Then somebody starts toward Langdon’s hospital room guns blazing, and the so-called adventure begins.

Langdon is having hallucinations about something akin to Dante’s Inferno while trying to work his way through amnesia. He’s in Italy, and he doesn’t know why, but Sienna, for reasons unknown, is going to stay by his side until he works things out.

OK, for starters, amnesia is one of the most desperate plot gimmicks. I was half expecting Robert Langdon’s evil twin brother, the villainous Michael Langdon, to appear and kick Robert in the balls. This one feels like a cheap soap opera from beginning to end.

Also, if you are going to employ the amnesia gimmick, then be consistent. Moments after barely being able to remember anything, Langdon manages to grab a laptop and use the Internet. He didn’t know what coffee was just seconds before. Then he remembers his password and surfs the net. So he has selective amnesia.

The main “puzzle” Langdon has to solve this time involves the whereabouts of a doomsday bomb that contains a virus that will wipe out the majority of Earth’s population. If he doesn’t find the Make Everybody Sick bomb, it will be an apocalypse like no other. Gee, I wonder if he’ll find it? I wonder if the whole world will die in a Ron Howard movie?

The first quarter of the movie does have some decent visuals as Langdon has nightmares about a plague-infected Earth, although it makes little sense why he’s having them at all. Much of the movie consists of the couple running around, pausing to talk about some sort of puzzling business that needs to be solved, and then running around again. The puzzles, as in the prior films, are ridiculous.

Hanks is just going through the motions with this one, having to spend much of the movie looking confused and sweating profusely. Jones is a good actress, but she’s given nothing to do with a completely ridiculous part.

And if you’ve seen the commercials for this one, you already know the fate Ben Foster’s bad-guy character suffers. After a great performance in this year’s Hell or High Water, he wastes his time here as a billionaire who thinks the world is due for a cleansing.

Apparently, author Dan Brown is at work on a new Langdon novel due out in 2017. Given that Inferno is a bomb by all accounts, let us hope we have seen the last of Hanks and Howard playing out this series on screen.