What do you get if you take a bit of The Matrix, almost every James Bond movie ever, some Highlander, The Terminator, Altered Carbon, a little Fast and Furious insanity (or a lot) and sprinkle it with sound effects from Transformers? Oh and plenty of over-the-top action scenes, unrealistic car chases, and more holes than a bag of loose razor blades?
You get Infinite. And despite all of its flaws (and there are several) I still actually really like this movie.
Yeah, I know, I know. It’s not really all that “smart.” It is, at its core, 100% a “scifi action movie” and as such doesn’t really need to try that hard. So what makes Infinite a “good” scifi action movie where others I’ve reviewed have been just total garbage?
Infinite is about one Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) who discovers that he’s actually the nth reincarnation of a guy named Heinrich Treadway. There are many otherss like him, who get reincarnated over and over again, retaining the memories and experience of each life before. But Evan is different, Evan can’t seem to remember anything at all.
He’s intercepted by Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) his old nemesis who is after The Egg, a device he built to wipe out all life on Earth, so his tortured existence of being reborn forever can end. I guess he gets all his mojo back while still in the womb, and I can see how that might be rather stressful. In the meantime he’s developed a super cool shotgun (which bears a striking resemblence to the double barrel from DOOM: Eternal.. Infinite, Eternal, Jesus they’re connected!) called the “De-throner” which sucks the victims soul out and onto a chip for storage. Yeah, don’t ask me about the mechanics involved there, because it doesn’t really matter. Its a plot device and roll with it. Sheesh.
Evan meets up with one of his old cohorts, Mora (Sophie Cookson), who takes him to the secret “Believers” headquarters known as “The Hub” to get his knowledge back. When that fails, they take him to “The Artisan” (Jason Mantzoukas) to try more, shall we say, drastic measures.
They find out where the Egg is, lose it, destroy it. Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after and we’re set up for a franchise if I’ve ever seen it.
Infinite is based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. I haven’t read it, so I can’t comment on it being “true to the source” or any of that. But honestly, I consider this to be a pretty damn good premise.
Sure Infinite borrows from The Matrix, Highlander, and Altered Carbon. Or maybe they borrowed from the book. Hell, who knows. Point is its a totally scifi idea. That there are “supers” out there that have lived for centuries and all that. It’s been done before, yes, but not like this that I recall.
Throughout Infinite you will be reminded of past scifi classics. Repeatedly. Some are more obvious, some not quite so, but there’s almost a running “thing” that feels like everything is trying to reference something. Which I suppose gives the movie a certain familiarity. The sword play, the bullet time, the explosions, far out car chases (what the hell are that Aston Martin and Testarossa made out of anyway?!) and all of it. Not to mention the entire “Casino Royale” scene which just has 007 dripping off of it, with the soundtrack, glamour, and pacing… I swear it was like a deleted scene from any number of Bond flicks.
Of course I forgot to mention that veteran Antoine Fuqua is at the helm here. Yeaaahhhh, You might remember the name from such modern staples as Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, and The Replacement Killers.
He’s managed to take some totally outlandish scenarios and actually make them seem not as much so. It’s almost hard to explain.
The pacing, too, really moves the film along, and then dials it back when its needed. There really aren’t any scenes that stand out as being “too long” or “too short” in my mind.
Wahlberg is actually pretty good here. I don’t know what it is but he’s on point. Maybe its just the fact that he doesn’t have a whole lot of lines, relatively speaking, and that the character seems to be written just for his particular personality, its hard to say. Bottom line is he pulls this character off.
Cookson, I don’t have a lot of comparisons to past roles of hers, but I don’t have a lot of complaints there, either. She’s not making me scream “go home, hack!” at the screen, which is a bonus any more.
But the real star of Infinite is Chiwetel Ejiofor. His portrayal of the criminally insane tortured soul is just perfect. He brings a level of careful crazy to the character that will blow your mind, while still making him dark and yet approachable. He’s almost like the perfect Bond villain here, which just furthers that whole 007 feel.
Now I start to get a little itchy as I delve into Infinite’s problems. Overall, I’d say the effects in the film are pretty damn good. From the “Avengers Tower” like feel of The Hub, to the crazy combat scenes (more on this in a moment) and numerous explosions and car chases, its all good.
Except one minor point of order. It’s obvious that the expensive cars in the chase scenes, most notably the Testarossa from the opening sequence, and the Aston Martin from the “jailbreak” sequence, had to be computer generated. Why? Because LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENS TO THEM as they’re slamming into things like concrete walls and water barrels, or jumping off of curbs in Mexico City. I mean, there’s one scene in particular where the Ferrari hits a water-barrel-barrier (don’t ask me the correct term for it) and it JUST GOES THROUGH IT. Hey, um, that’s designed to STOP vehicles in a less than abrupt manner. Not just have a fairly fragile 1980s super car just blow through them and remain literally unscathed, down to the popup headlights. Don’t even get me started on the jailbreak scene. Yeah its fun and cool but that one is just like “maaaaan, what are you even doing.” Even if it does bring some serious deja vu of past action movies.
Over The Top
A big complaint, is that most, if not all, of the action scenes really are just over the top. Like a 1990’s Stephen Van Stallonegger movie cranked up to 11. Almost in a bad caricature of every Michael Bay movie ever made (cue the Transformers sound effects.) I get that its a scifi action movie, and the rules really don’t apply. Except they do, and we notice.
And, uh, yeah, he does jump a motorcycle onto the wing of a moving jet airplane. I know, I know, I know, maybe that’s a bridge too far, even for me. But I cringed through it, and so should you.
A couple of huge plot holes stick out like sore thumbs for me. They didn’t ruin the movie, and I don’t know how it was handled in the book, but you just sit there and go, “now, hang on a second….”
First, and this is gonna be a spoiler so you’ve been warned.. If they keep the bodies of their previous iterations “on ice” at the hub, with all sorts of fancy tech, and they’re studying them to find out what makes them different, etc. etc. Why the hell didn’t they spot the thing inside of the body its in? I mean, you’d think a routine x-ray or other scan would reveal it, right? If nothing else, “hey whats this big lump for?”
Second, the scene where Bathurst is escaping with The Egg on his jet, while the Artisan is flying around nearby in a freaking helicopter gunship armed with rockets and shit. “Hey! Turn around and shoot the plane maybe?!” Unless that would detonate The Egg, maybe, its not really said, but its like “wtf man! right there! Fire!”
Third, the whole thing about storing their “Souls” on disk. It reeks of 1980’s plot device (like I said earlier) and I really don’t like it. At least in Altered Carbon it was explained away decently with “oh, its alien tech so it just works.” I dunno.
Despite Infinite being a completely outlandish and over-the-top thrill ride, I’m giving it a full 3.5/5. Yeah. I actually watched it twice to make sure I wasn’t remembering it wrong, because I sat there like a big stupid idiot loving almost every minute of it. The direction, acting, and pacing are really just excellent. The premise and plot are decently scifi and the action, although it definitely takes things way too far at times, is just a lot of damn fun.
Infinite is on Paramount Plus, and hopefully they realize what they have here and find a way to continue the story. Just don’t fuck it up like what happened with Altered Carbon.
I also wonder if this was intended for a proper theatrical release, and that was scrapped because of all the usual covidiness everywhere. Hard to say, but I think it would have done well.