Between the stars and the action, Infinite has plenty of elements working in its favor, but the overall execution still leaves one wanting.
The concept of reincarnation has lent itself to numerous stories over the years and it gets a sci-fi twist with Antoine Fuqua’s latest film, Infinite. Once expected to debut in theaters last summer, the Mark Wahlberg-starring movie, which is based on D. Eric Maikranz’s The Reincarnationist Papers, arrives on Paramount+ today, making it the streamer’s most high-profile cinematic debut so far. Infinite certainly has the star power to ignite some interest, and it’s an entertaining ride with a compelling concept. At the same time, it buckles under the weight of its own world-building and suffers from a surprising lack of urgency. Between the stars and the action, Infinite has plenty of elements working in its favor, but the overall product still leaves one wanting.
All his life, Evan McCauley (Wahlberg) has been plagued by strange dreams and visions he can’t account for. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, but there’s much more to the story. Evan soon learns he’s known as an “Infinite,” a person blessed with the gifts of reincarnation. Evan has died and been reborn thousands of times, meaning all of his visions are, in fact, real. He, along with several others, task themselves with protecting humanity from the Nihilists, or Infinites who have grown frustrated with their endless births. The head Nihilist, Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) aims to destroy Earth in its entirety with a MacGuffin known as the Egg, but the only person who knows its true location is Evan – or better yet, his past self Heinrich Treadway (Dylan O’Brien) does.
Reincarnation is a fascinating topic, and as the basis for a secret organization in a sci-fi movie, it’s a pretty compelling one. Viewers are treated to quick flashes of Evan’s past lives, and editor Conrad Buff IV does an excellent job cutting between those past glimpses and the present day, lending a genuinely disorienting feel to Evan’s journey. However, Infinite isn’t much interested in Evan’s past beyond his last life, Treadway. It’s a shame that screenwriter Ian Shorr (building on a story by Todd Stein) opts to avoid giving more weight to the past lives, particularly since several characters are hinted at having deep histories. This feels especially true when it comes to Evan and Bathurst, two practically immortal men with vastly different viewpoints.
As a result, Infinite goes without some emotional heft. As an action flick, it succeeds. Fuqua certainly knows how to stage engaging set pieces, whether it’s a car chase that literally starts inside of a police station or one hero’s stand against an opposing strike team that outnumbers him. Infinite is an entertaining ride, but a lack of depth with the characters and the mythology keeps the audience from getting too invested in the heroes’ task. Though the fate of the entire world is at stake, there’s a strange lack of urgency in the proceedings. The action is thrilling, but not quite in the sense that one is worried about whether Evan and his allies will be able to keep the Egg out of Bathurst’s hands. Infinite instead feels like Fuqua couldn’t dig into the material beyond its potential as an action film. Of course, that’s not a bad thing if one wants an entertaining sci-fi thrill ride. But if one wants to delve deeper into the concept presented, Infinite comes up short.
Leading man Wahlberg handles Evan’s disorientation, then commitment to the cause well. If there’s a sense that Evan has adjusted to the reality of his being an Infinite startlingly quickly, that’s more a script issue than anything having to do with Wahlberg’s performance. He dives into the action with gusto and fares the best out of everyone in terms of character development. As the cynical Bathurst, Ejiofor growls and rages his way through an intimidating portrayal and he manages to give the villain some additional layers of depth as well. On the other end of the spectrum is Sophie Cookson’s Nora. The Kingsman alum isn’t given much else to do beyond provide exposition, leaving Nora’s characterization feeling like a missed opportunity. The MVP of Infinite just might be Jason Mantzoukas as a wildcard known as the Artisan; he brings a comedic flair to the film and makes a mark with a character who arrives late into the action.
Infinite is the second movie to skip theaters and debut on Paramount+ and it’s a shame it won’t be seen on a big screen. However, this also means it can find a new audience who might not have been tempted to seek it out on Wahlberg’s star power alone. For those looking for an intriguing sci-fi story with solid action, Infinite will fit the bill. However, for those aiming to go a little deeper, it won’t quite satisfy. But sometimes all one needs is a fun popcorn movie to fill a summer night. Infinite can definitely do that.
More: Watch The Final Infinite Trailer
Infinite is now streaming on Paramount+. It is 106 minutes long and rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some bloody images, strong language, and brief drug use.
Let us know what you think of the movie in the comments!
- Infinite (2021)Release date: Jun 10, 2021
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