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‘Inferno’ Is the Bad Movie We Need

Tom Hanks’s terrible hair and all

Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment

LANGDON BACK. Sorry, I’ll rephrase: Langdon back. Sorry, give me one more chance, I really think I can nail it this time: Langdon back?

That sound you hear is America not giving a collective shit that they’re making a third movie in the Da Vinci Code universe. Today, the latest trailer dropped for Inferno — the sequel to the sequel to the movie adaptation of the Dan Brown book you probably read but don’t remember but just say you read it because, honestly, it doesn’t matter — and it seems as though most people’s knee-jerk response has been, well: “Why?”

The Da Vinci Code … but not … The Da Vinci Code? Again? They’re still doing that?

And I get it. Really, I do. They made a sequel to a seven-year-old movie about how Ewan McGregor killed the Pope for Illuminati sport, or SOMETHING, or maybe NOT EVEN something, and you DON’T CARE, and you probably thought that Angels & Demons was an ironically named roller rink, or a combination tattoo parlor/Tom DeLonge interview, or the cologne I’m wearing, thanks for noticing, and it’s none of those and that’s fine. But here’s the thing:

The Da Vinci Code movies are secretly dope. This sounds like an opinion, I know, and a bold one at that. But it’s neither. It’s just the truth.

Here are the only two things about Inferno you need to know:

Tom Hanks has straight hair in the ‘Da Vinci Code’ universe

Straight Hair Era Tom Hanks is so goddamn much, and he deserves our love and respect. Yes, sure: When The Da Vinci Code first came out in 2006, Tom Hanks’s hair was a lot to take in, a shock to the system. Receding, and swooping, and teased forward and upward and backward, and … oh, man. Friends, I won’t front: It didn’t look great. But it wasn’t simply that it didn’t look great. It was that it looked — at all.

We think of Tom Hanks as this paragon of comfort and stability. He’s the Dad Zero of American cinema, and he does as dads do: reliably, steadily, stylishly within the reality of his own strict dad constructs, and most importantly of all — absent any vanity. The Tom Hanks archetype, is, above all else, at its essence, post-vain. That’s what separates him, and has always separated him, from the Tom Cruises and Brad Pitts of the world. 2000s Cruise and Pitt have come off as tragedies of vanity — obsessed with finding the fountain of youth. Hanks is different: We like to imagine that if Tom Hanks stumbled upon the fountain of youth, he would, I don’t know — turn to it, and say, “Actually, I’m all set — I have a Nalgene right here in my fanny pack, but thanks for the offer, that’s very kind.” And it was on these cherished terms that seeing Tom Hanks go through a midlife hair crisis was so upsetting.

But it’s time to move past that. It’s time to hold hands, and buy tickets to Inferno, and agree — just close our eyes, and open our hearts, and agree — that this isn’t upsetting at all. It’s time to understand that Tom Hanks isn’t just an archetype; he’s a person. That Tom Hanks isn’t just a dad; he’s a man. And that Tom Hanks has some silly-ass hair in the Da Vinci Code movies, and it makes him feel fun and young and maybe even sexy, and that’s weird, I guess, but mostly sweet, and how nice for him, the end. So you can have your curly hair–Tom Hanks movies, and you can watch them as many times as you want, and they’re good, and I respect you. But you should know: You’re watching a character within a character. You’re watching Tom Hanks play — which is to say, manage the expectations of being — “Tom Hanks.”

Only in the Da Vinci Code universe are you getting Tom Hanks truly in the raw: As a movie star who needs hits. As a dad who wants to be cool. And as a person, like any other, who thinks his hair looks really good a certain way, and is wrong.

No one knows what any of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ movies are about

Tom Hanks plays Robert Langdon, a professor of symbolo … a symbologist, who is very excellent at his job. And, umm, that’s it. That’s literally it. The rest? No one — no one! — knows. OK, sure, one or two details endure: There was a murder in the Louvre. (IN THE LOUVRE.) There is a loose (loose) religious subtext. There are some secret societies (think of them as friendships, but more stressful and with all Gchats off the record) of indeterminate purpose. And Ewan McGregor, bless his heart, stays [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] scheming. But mostly you can disregard all of that.

And that’s because, occasionally fancy vocabulary aside, these movies are total fucking nonsense. I mean it. We’re talking Indiana Jones without a sense of humor. National Treasure without the cocaine. The Matrix but without the Matrix and both pills just take you to some dank office at Harvard. The Da Vinci Code universe should be wearing a big neon sign that says “DON’T EVEN WORRY ABOUT IT.” Don’t even worry about it! These are not serious endeavors.

And thank god.

By which — and at the risk of seeming ungrateful — I mean: Isn’t it refreshing to have a movie franchise that can’t be #actually’d and fact-checked and source-texted to death? Like: Doesn’t it give you some small modicum of comfort to know that, come October, there will be no “Here are the 12 comics you need to read before Inferno” primers? That there will be no “testing the internal logic of Inferno’s plot” examinations? That there will be no “What Inferno gets wrong about amnesiac Harvard professors being recruited into emergency action to stop a global-extinction event by doing advanced sudoku or whatever” post-mortems?

And the reason there won’t be, of course, is that there are zero comics you need to read before Inferno; and there is no internal logic of Inferno’s plot to examine; and Inferno gets nothing (let me repeat: nothing) wrong about amnesiac Harvard professors being recruited into emergency action to stop a global-extinction event by doing advanced sudoku or whatever. Inferno, and the Da Vinci Code universe, is cinema freed from the burdens of meaningfulness, of source code, of logical consequence. There was a book, and it was in the airport, and a lot of people bought it, and Tom Hanks was available, and something something something THE LOUVRE. That’s it.

The rest is easy, and up to you: Just turn your brain off, then turn it to the secret setting past off — it should say “off-off,” don’t tell anyone else about it, you shouldn’t use it too many times, you could do permanent damage — and relax.

The Da Vinci Code is nonsense trash. It will save us.