If like most pundits, you believe Donald Trump can only win the presidency when hell freezes over, all I can say is you better get ready for an orange White House. And you can blame Ron Howard for subjugating biblical order by dousing the lake of fire with “Inferno,” his cryogenic assault on the underworld.

The perpetrator of this subterranean polar vortex is old friend Robert Langdon, the famed Harvard symbologist who tarnished the Holy Grail in “The Da Vinci Code” and darkened the Illuminati in “Angels and Demons.” Now Langdon is besmirching nothing less than Dante and his epic 14,233-line poem, “The Divine Comedy,” by randomly sourcing its vision of hell for clues in his quest to halt a man-made pandemic threatening to wipe out half the world’s population.

It’s supposed to be a race against time, but unfolds at a glacial pace under the icy direction of Howard, who in his third go-round at the helm of the much-maligned, but financially lucrative franchise still hasn’t gotten a handle on making these bungled endeavors anything more than a chore. His first mistake — among many — is hiring David Koepp (he, of “Mordecai” fame) to adapt Dan Brown’s best-seller. Koepp, who also penned “Angels and Demons,” strives for complexity, but delivers only convolution by siccing multiple demons on Langdon’s tail, as the asexual professor traipses across Italy with a hot, young doctor (a slumming Felicity Jones) in tow.

It’s basically Langdon — once again played by a surprisingly low-energy Tom Hanks — against the world; constantly being pursued by multiple bad guys and gals, including a ruthless female assassin (Ana Ularu), a funny, genial Bond-type villain (scene-stealer Irrfan Khan) and a World Health Organization honcho (Omar Sy) backed by a dozen black-ops. Who knew WHO packed heat? But that’s the only warmth you’ll feel as the discombobulated story slogs along through one gorgeous city after another.

And thank God for the scenery. Without it, “Inferno” would be a complete waste of time, as it faithfully follows the series formula of Langdon and a steady rotation of platonic female companions gathering clues, dodging bullets and reciting reams of expository dialogue to keep us from getting more confused than we already are. And from the moment a brilliant biotech mogul (a wasted Ben Foster from the year’s best movie, “Hell or High Water”) leaps to his death after leaving a plague behind aimed at “creating a better world,” the movie becomes a repetitive cycle of Hanks and Jones escaping one death-defying scrape after another.

At least the two actors have chemistry, despite the significant age difference, but since when has Langdon loved women? Or any other human, for that matter? He’s all about the symbols history’s finest artists have seeming left behind for only he to find. There are a bunch of them here, most notably Botticelli’s “Map of Hell” and Dante’s death mask. But if Foster’s Bertrand Zobrist really wanted to halve the world population, why would he or his fellow save-the-environment zealots tip him off to such obvious tips? But then little of what “Inferno” offers makes sense, including why Langdon has total recall of historical minutia when he can barely remember his name after getting conked in the head and winding up in a hospital with that old movie standby — amnesia.

He thinks he’s at Mass General, but he’s actually in Florence with Jones’ pretty MD, Sienna Brooks, at his side ready to help him escape when an assassin arrives during non-visiting hours. And as Langdon RUNS only minutes after awakening from a coma, he’s experiencing his own Hieronymus Bosch retrospective inside his head. These nightmarish images do allow Howard a rare chance at creativity, as we see what Langdon is seeing, including ghouls, asps and commuters with their heads twisted backwards. Remind you of the Red Line?

The most striking visuals arrive late in the picture, when the action moves to the blood-red waters beneath the breathtaking Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. It’s so beautiful you curse all those dull actors getting in the way with their silly shootouts and fisticuffs. No wonder “Inferno” winds up as futile as Dante’s bid to win the heart of his elusive Beatrice. At least he has one of history’s greatest writings to show for it; while “Inferno” has nothing.

“Inferno”
Cast includes Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan and Sidse Babett Knudsen.
(PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and some sensuality.)
Grade: C-