Inferno (2016)

Why did you change the ending? Why?

Say what you will about the Dan Brown novels (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons), but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. They’re never going to be heralded as literature, but they’re endlessly thrilling and twisty, and they make you believe in conspiracies that don’t really exist.

Inferno, the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series, was even more special to me. It not only took Langdon to Italy, one of my favorite countries, but it revolved around Dante’s Inferno, this time dealing with a plague that threatens to kill billions of people before the world cannot support them. It is a testament to this novel’s ending that I still remember it, and it still makes me think. What is going to stop us from hitting carrying capacity? What will the consequences be?

I was willing to forgive this film’s flaws until the end. Why? Because they changed it. I was willing to overlook the grotesque fever dreams and the on-the nose dialogue and the twists that don’t make sense until the narrative invents a convenient backstory. With these types of movies, you just go with it.

But, what the filmmakers did here is unforgivable. They took an idea, and they stripped it of its substance. I want to tell you so badly what it is, but I don’t want to spoil the novel. You really should read it. Without that twist at the end, the film is procedural, and it can barely justify its existence.

The rest isn’t so bad. A majority of it takes place in Florence, Italy, giving you a Rick Steves tour of the city with a few insider tips, then hopping to Venice and Istanbul. The cast is committed, and Tom Hanks is as relatable as ever. Felicity Jones is good too, as are the marvelously diverse international stars. The locations are stunning, and the Hollywood production value is worthy of the series.

It’s just the ending that bothers me. Oh, my goodness. When I realized the ending wasn’t the same, I gave up on the rest of the film. If you remove those aspects which make you think, you soon find that you have no reason to think at all, and that’s just a waste of time.

2.5 Yellow

Inferno is in theaters now.

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