Infinite Synopsis: Evan (Mark Wahlberg) is haunted by memories of two past lives stumbles upon the centuries-old secret society of similar individuals and dares to join their ranks. They must work together to stop a world-ending plot from the wicked Ted (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a former acquaintance of Evan’s from a past life. Based on The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz.
COVID-19 has caused some big-budget releases to lose themselves amidst the anvils of time. A picturesque case comes with the high-concept Mark Wahlberg actioner Infinite, which was pegged in its development as a “Wanted meets The Matrix” franchise-starter. Somewhere along the way, those intentions began to fade as the film’s delayed theatrical release was straight-up canceled by Paramount (it was originally going to debut on Memorial Day before a delay to September).
Now debuting on Paramount+, Infinite possesses the credibility of a promising first attempt at movie magic for the overlooked streamer. Fashioned from the fabric of a commonplace blockbuster, Infinite has the look and feel of an event movie, but this sleep-walking effort rarely engages with its intriguing premise.
Like several sci-fi blockbusters before it, Infinite seems deathly afraid of its strongest asset. A narrative about reincarnation and our meaningful spiritual connections should have dramatic viability (Cloud Atlas morphed a similar premise into a masterful showcase), but Ian Shorr’s wayward screenplay embraces a hollow shell of studio filmmaking. Every narrative beat registers like an empty paint job of action movie mechanics, with Shorr never integrating the premise’s inventive connotations into the dull formula. The seldom attempts at mythological world-building are about as flat and thankless as it gets (some bizarre religious angles are introduced and never explored).
Infinite’s star-studded cast can’t keep the film’s tired veneer afloat. Mark Wahlberg’s machismo bravado makes a poor choice for Evan’s vulnerable persona. As usual, the actor doesn’t stray away from his all-too-familiar comfort zone, droning away with blank line readings while rarely imbuing humanity into the character. Part of acting is…acting, so I don’t know why Wahlberg continues to settle with these roles (when he’s taken chances with Pain and Gain and The Other Guy’s, it’s been a breath of fresh air). Chiwetel Ejiofor finds himself stuck as a thankless villain despite his abundance of energy, while co-stars Dylan O’Brien, Sophie Cookson, and Jason Mantzoukas have little to do in their barebones roles.
The whole experience would be a disaster without director Antoine Fuqua’s assured capabilities. Fuqua bolsters the film with a level of competent professionalism, crafting several surprisingly effective setpieces during the breezy runtime. Whether it’s a high-wire car chase or an implausibly campy motorcycle stunt, the director has a knack for accelerating sequences to exciting new heights. It’s just too bad the director’s trust in the material isn’t paid off in the film itself.
Infinite never escapes the tiredness of its by-the-numbers mechanics. The film performs a major disservice to its intriguing source material while rarely offering a reason for audiences to invest in its universe.