If Jason can be Bourne again, there’s no reason why his analogue, gadget-free equivalent, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ hero Robert Langdon, shouldn’t have another crack at the multiplex. In ‘Inferno’, the Bourne parallels are harder than ever to ignore: hang a few more years on the hero’s shoulders and exchange the hi-tech hacking gear for sixteenth-century paintings and kids’ party treasure-hunt clues, and they’re basically the same franchise. It doesn’t help that Langdon spends most of the movie suffering from Bourne-ish amnesia.
This time around, a deadly virus is set to wipe out half the world’s population unless Langdon and his plummy scholar-turned-surgeon sidekick Dr Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) can get to it first. On their trail are a gang of suspect and heavily-armed World Health Organisation operatives (since when did the WHO have heavily-armed operatives?) and a shadowy consortium led by ace fixer Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan, having so much lip-smacking fun he almost rescues the movie).
‘Inferno’ starts well as Langdon wakes, bleeding and confused, in the Florence hospital where Brooks works. He’s barely had time to sit up and groan before an armed assassin charges in and starts firing, Langdon hallucinating rivers of blood as he and Brooks flee across the city in a hastily hailed cab. But the treasure hunt element that fuelled ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is truly half-hearted here (Langdon solves precisely two clues in the entire movie, and gets one of them wrong). It doesn’t help that the climactic surprise in Brown’s book has been weakened immeasurably.
So all that remains is a creaky and under-powered Bourne clone, as our not-desperately-dynamic duo trundle from one European gallery to another, sharing easily digestible info-nuggets about Dante and Botticelli. By the end, even Hanks looks a bit bored.