Let the Bad Guy Win

Spoilers ahead. Two nights ago, with Apple TV in hand, I stared hesitantly at the description for the movie Inferno. I had read the Da Vinci Code, felt the execution lacking, too many leaps in the plot. Yet, I give Dan Brown credit. He took the concept from a non-fiction book (a similar concept was required reading for a college religion class I took once upon a time), wrapped a fictional plot around the research with symbolism and adventure, and churned out a best selling novel. I never read another one of his books. Jealous? Maybe. Thought he plagiarized someone’s work? A little. But not really.

Years later, I decided to give Dan another chance and read his latest, an ode to overpopulation. I couldn’t put the book down-he’s magical at maintaining a breathtaking pace. As an aside, this is required reading for fan of Thanos of Avenger’s fame.

What gave me pause before renting was the Rotten Tomatoes score, at the time of this writing less than 20 percent. I figured this had to be the Dan Brown halo effect. A divisive author. You either love him or hate him. I figured the critics had this wrong. So, I decided to click the rental button. What could go wrong? Tom Hanks. Felicity Jones (loved Rogue One). Ron Howard. And an original book I enjoyed.

Well, this didn’t work on many levels because the director changed the ending. Why? I have no idea. You should only deviate from the book in rare cases-improve the pace, tighten the story, etc., but never change a novel’s defining feature. In this case, the bad guy was supposed to win. Two hours of build-up and a director 360 degree plot change. Rarely, is the Hollywood ending preferred (although, it has happened). Sigh.