• by Wes Singleton

Inferno, C-

Rated PG-13, 121 minutes

Much like the Dan Brown novel upon which it's based, the modestly entertaining but forgettable thriller "Inferno" shouldn't be taken seriously. It is what it is: slickly produced popcorn escapism that won't leave you with any lasting memories of your trip.

Famous symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows a trail of clues tied to Dante, the great medieval poet. Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia and teams up with Sienna Brooks (Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones from "The Theory of Everything"), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman ("Hell or High Water's" Ben Foster) from unleashing a virus that could wipe out half of the world's population.

"Inferno" is directed by Ron Howard and written by David Koepp, who co-wrote the 2009 installment "Angels & Demons," this sequel is an energetic yet silly travelogue that's part "DaVinci Code" and part "Contagion" and about as subtle as an authentic Italian pizza, piled on with loads of cheese. The preposterous, clunky storytelling becomes all too evident in a lazy, meandering second act; one minor character essentially explains the plot to Langdon in a minute or two, an annoying, too-obvious contrivance that doesn't make this adventure worth the trip.

For what it's worth, the gorgeous sights are the most memorable part of "Inferno" as Hanks and company traipse across Europe through Florence and Venice Italy, with the climax taking place in Istanbul in the lovely Basilica Cistern (or perhaps a replica, which is well-done). The always appealing Hanks continues his run as Langdon, but more than ever, it feels like a disinterested movie star "let's get this over with" turn, while the too-young Jones is miscast as his partner this time, playing it with a sense of earnestness that wasn't believable.

As a matter of fact, most of the movie is hard to believe, and like the other films in this series, this too has a muddled air of ludicrousness, with an intriguing premise (population control) lost underneath its confusing, cheesy plotting that may give you a headache by the end. Hanks' charm and energy should make "Inferno" a hit in spite of the fact it's the dumbest entry in this already silly film series, which is saying a lot - or maybe not.

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