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The Da Vinci Load 

Robert Langdon returns

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"Inferno" is the latest Robert Langdon thriller based off the books by Dan Brown, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom "America's Favorite Uncle" Hanks. The story is similar to "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" in that we follow Harvard University professor Robert Langdon through another historical scavenger hunt across the globe.

This time, Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy, with a head injury and no memory of the past 48 hours. He teams up with his doctor, Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), to not only uncover the mystery of his missing time, but also to find out why assassins, the World Health Organization and a private security company called The Consortium are all hunting him down.

Without delving too deeply into spoilers, the reasons have to do with a billionaire geneticist who engineered a plague to wipe out a huge chunk of the world's population. He thinks the population has grown too large for the Earth to sustain it, so he looks at the purge as a way to save the world by killing a few billion people.

The main thing that makes the books such goofy fun to read and the movies enjoyable is the character of Langdon himself. That's not to say that the character is all that interesting; he's another smart white dude along the lines of Sherlock Holmes following the career path of Indiana Jones. He rarely throws punches or gets in shootouts, but instead follows clues and walks quickly through crowds and museums to escape danger.

"Inferno" is the best of the Langdon movies, although that's damning with faint praise. Director Ron Howard seems to be getting more experimental as he ages, bouncing between handheld and cranes and dancing between long shots and quick cuts like he's having the time of his life. When Langdon first wakes up he has some extremely detailed visions of what Dante's Inferno would look like on Earth, and the imagery is pretty disturbing. Now we know what Howard's aborted "Dark Tower" adaptation would have looked like.

The fact that this movie is PG-13 is incredible. I am a die-hard horror movie buff and there was imagery throughout "Inferno" that made me cringe. We see two separate characters fall from great heights as the camera follows them all the way to the impact. Langdon's apocalyptic visions are gruesome as hell and would fit perfectly in a "Hellraiser" or "Silent Hill" movie. I guarantee if there had been any nudity or sex the film would have been hit with an R-rating.

As long as you don't think too deeply about plot details, "Inferno" is quite entertaining. Hanks is always worth watching and Jones adds dimensions to a character that initially doesn't have many, so following the two of them is worthwhile even when the seams start showing. Hanks is definitely slumming it here and so is Howard, but really all of the Faraday Pointers and hidden clues are just leading the two of them to dump trucks filled with cash. There's no mystery there.

Inferno

Dir. Ron Howard

Grade: B-

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