‘Infinite’ Movie Review: Mark Wahlberg Reincarnates Better Movies In Lackluster Form
Infinite truly looks like a movie phoning it in. It’s got an ensemble cast of very attractive people led by marquee hero Mark Wahlberg, with Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor as the villain. It has what appear to be expensive action sequences. It’s got a catchy premise that immediately seems less so the moment any character starts talking about it. Yet the sum of all these parts don’t feel like a movie so much as a highlight reel for content.
Is the movie ‘Infinite’ based on a true story?
Infinite is based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. The film opens with narration explaining Infinites can remember past lives, but have split into two opposing factions. That’s already a lot, and Evan McCauley (Wahlberg) continues to narrate explaining that his medication is running out. What’s wild is how unnecessary it all is. They had a scene where Evan confronts his black market dealer but they still didn’t trust the audience to get it.
In jail after the dealer confrontation, Evan meets Bathurst (Ejiofor) who tries to remind him who he was. They’re interrupted by Nora Brightman (Sophie Cookson) who rescues Evan and takes him to the Hub, where other Infinites hide out and plan stuff. In Evan’s past life, he stole a device from Bathurst that would wipe out every living thing so nobody can ever be reincarnated. You’d think that solves everything, but Bathurst believes Evan can remake the device for him so he’s still coming for them.
‘Infinite’ makes two problematic claims
Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, it can be a perfectly fun device for an action movie, a sort of spiritual Total Recall. However, Infinite has two wildly inappropriate themes that should have been flagged during development.
One is that Evan has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, doctors presuming his memories are mental illness. Saying that schizophrenia is just midiagnosed past life recall is not great. Evan even attends a job interview where the potential employer brings up his history of violence and mental illness. Never mind they wouldn’t bother to schedule a meeting with someone they don’t intend to hire, but that interview was for the sake of exposition.
At least Evan can forge samurai swords to sell for his medication, which brings us to the second problem. A Japanese blacksmith was reincarnated as a White guy. In theory, belief in reincarnation has no racial, gender or even species boundaries. But, when you commit it to film, the filmmakers are choosing to replace an Asian character, however relegated to backstory, with a White one.
A lot to look at but nothing to feel
Infinite opens on a char chase that never feels like a real car on a road. It may have been one, but they added so many digital effects to it that none of it feels practical. Nora drives through a police station and all the prison cells. It’s fast, but not very furious.
The Hub trains Evan to remember his fighting skills. There’s a montage of Evan training, and they keep flashing back to a fight on a crane. The actors on the crane are obviously on a green screen mimicking moves that the filmmakers composite together later. John Wick does some of that for its more elaborate sequences, but those movies manage to simulate real contact.
The climax has an elaborate chase through the forest. Nora and Evan use skills they presumably accumulated from past lives, but they just seem random and unmotivated. We know Evan can fight because of the montage, but other characters have bags of tricks they use at random like Batman’s shark repellant.
A lot of scenes that explosion-cam where the radius around the blast gets slow motion and blurry. That numbs the impact of any pyrotechnics. Some of the set pieces are quite similar to ones in F9 but far less effective. Let that be a lesson to critics, don’t take the Fast and the Furious movies for granted. Not everyone can pull that off.