Antione Fuqua has a filmography marked by an interesting assortment of action thrillers. Not all of them are hits, but even his misses are reasonably entertaining and have a particular level of grit and verve. His new film “Infinite” stands out from his other movies and not in the way you would hope. It essentially lacks all of the aforementioned grit and verve he’s known for. After seeing it it’s clear why the movie’s theater release was scrapped and it was sent straight to Paramount+ streaming platform with practically no promotion whatsoever.
In terms of concept, “Infinite” borrows from a number of other science-fiction thrillers including “Inception” and “The Matrix”, but never comes remotely close their level. I can only guess it’s a case of a film’s script (written by Ian Shorr) sounding a lot better on paper. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg, an actor not exactly known as the most emotive. Here he’s at his most emotionless, never showing an ounce of feeling other than occasionally raising his voice a pinch out of irritation. I still haven’t figured out if this was how Wahlberg was directed or if he is just bored out of his mind.
Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence who is in desperate need of a job to pay his rent and to get his meds (in some early narration we’re warned that things can go bad if he doesn’t get his meds). On the stranger side of things we learn he possesses a number of peculiar skills yet he has no idea where he learned them. For example, one second we watch Evan getting turned down in a job interview and then the next he’s forging a samurai sword. He has no idea where he learned how to do it. It’s just something he’s always known how to do. It sounds ludicrous, but along with dreams that feel like memories and a strange exhaustive knowledge of history, it really gets into one of the cooler elements of the story.
But that’s about as close as we get to exploring the the human implications or the emotional struggle that would come with such an unusual condition. Instead we get a story that is essentially drab and endless world-building bookended by an action-packed opening and ending. There are some cool car chases to start the movie and it has some preposterous yet amusing showdowns to finish. But the tedious and thoroughly uninteresting middle is hard to endure.
The movie tries to sell us on a world full of reincarnated warriors called Infinites. We hear about how they have split up in to two warring sides, the Believers (the good guys) and the Nihilists (the baddies). The Believers feel it is their duty to protect humanity, much like they have done throughout time. The Nihilists…well you know. They’re led by Bathurst, a centuries old Infinite now running around in Chiwetel Ejiofor’s body. He has “lost faith” in the Infinite’s mission and is after a world-ending “egg” that will wipe out all life (trust me, it’s better not to ask too many questions). But the egg’s location is buried somewhere in Evan’s head making him the target of both the Believers and the Nihilists.
Perhaps the movie’s biggest shortcoming is that it spends a lot of time talking about relationships from the past rather than building any meaningful new ones on screen. So we end up following a bunch of hollow characters as they slowly move towards the inevitable bombastic finish. The compelling idea of a man haunted by other people’s memories has all the ingredients for a fun movie. But the lack of interesting characters, the relentless exposition, and the bland world-building make “Infinite” a humorless and soulless slog that a few well-shot action scenes can’t cover up. “Infinite” is now streaming on Paramount+.