The latest in Dan Brown’s “what if your dad was Jason Bourne” series (following The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons) sees Tom Hanks being chased into roughly four thousand museums and churches by shady government cabals, each time escaping through secret catacombs and ancient tunnels that only he knows about.
The twist in the Harvard professor’s historical adventure is this time he’s been shot in the head and is suffering from short-term memory loss, like a modern day Indiana Jones crossed with Dory from Finding Nemo.
Retracing his own forgotten steps to uncover clues, point at some old paintings and solve puzzles, our hero races against time to prevent the release of a bio-weapon that would wipe out half of the human population. The puzzles, by the way, are crap. One is a simple anagram of the kind they routinely solve on Countdown in eight seconds.
As his busy brogues clack-clack through church courtyards, Tom Hanks maintains the rictus expression of a man perpetually on the brink of a sneeze. Felicity Jones plays his beautiful young lady sidekick, with her role to spin around in shock so her hair flips all around the place. At one point on their trans-European sightseeing holiday a drone ineffectually chases them through the woods, just to remind you that it’s 2016. Nobody stands still for very long in this film, which creates such an atmosphere of anxiety that I found myself repeatedly taking off and putting on my shoes.
Pulpy, stupid, formulaic and full of plot holes so large you could park a car in them, Inferno is at least a loyal adaptation of the book. It’s one of those rare films about saving the world in which you’re rooting for the killer virus.