Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite is yet another film that details the lives of people who seemingly have the capacity to live forever. We have already seen its like on Netflix, with the reasonably entertaining The Old Guard, as well as the 1986 ‘classic,’ Highlander that, despite the promise that there ‘can be only one,’ spawned a never-ending franchise with diminishing returns.
Infinite is a little different. Mark Wahlberg’s Evan McCauley isn’t immortal. But it’s the fact that Wahlberg can remember all of his past lives that gives him the ability to be super-infinite. As he can remember all of the skills he has picked up over the course of his reincarnated existence, he can wield a samurai sword, practice hand-to-hand combat, and do other things that befit the people he has existed as before. It’s an intriguing concept but sadly, this isn’t a film that will live forever in your mind.
As the director of The Equalizer and Training Day, Fuqua certainly has what it takes to craft an interesting thriller. He is no slouch in the action stakes either, as he proved with Shooter, which also starred Mark Wahlberg. However, this film won’t go down in history as one of his best.
Based on the novel The Reincarnationist Papers, this futuristic tale tells the story of two factions, the Infinites and the Believers, each one battling over the future of the human race. Wahlberg falls into the former camp as a man who slowly wakes up to the fact that he has existed before. And Chiwetel Ejiofor heads up the opposing side, as somebody who sees the gift of eternal life as less of a blessing and more of a curse that blights his every reality.
The concept is certainly interesting but it’s never fully realised. Despite some reasonably good action scenes, especially near the beginning of the film, it never quite raises the pulse. This is because the characters within are quite thinly drawn so we are never fully invested in them.
Yes, there is a high stakes scenario at the heart of the film – The Believers want to use something called the Egg to destroy the world, while the Infinites battle to stop them – but as the convoluted story borders on ridiculousness at times, it’s hard to take seriously. In fact, there were moments when I stopped caring about the film entirely. After a promising early start, events take a turn for the worst as exposition piles upon exposition and the story threads become ever more nonsensical.
Sadly, the acting doesn’t help. This isn’t to say the film doesn’t contain actors of merit. Mark Wahlberg, Sophie Cookson (as the woman who wakes Eric up to his infinite existence), and Chiwetel Ejiofor, are all people capable of turning in good performances. The wonderful Toby Jones turns up here too. However, these talented actors aren’t given a lot to work with, as their characters are all fairly one-dimensional. The fact that they have to rely on dialogue that doesn’t always make a lot of sense isn’t helpful either.
Thankfully, this isn’t a film that feels like it’s going to go on forever. At 106 minutes, it’s not a short film but it’s far shorter than many recent action films, such as Fast and Furious 9, which went on for a bum-numbing 135 minutes. The action, including one scene where Wahlberg, after riding off a cliff, leaps mid-air from a motorcycle and onto the wing of an aeroplane, is adeptly handled. It’s just a shame that the story is a bit of a mess, being derivative of other, better films that one is reminded of while watching.
Is it worth a watch? Well, if you’re prepared to turn your brain off for what is essentially a generic piece of escapism, then yes, it might be. In one sense, it’s perfect Friday night viewing if all you want to do is wind down and forget about work and your assorted other life pressures. But if you’re a more discerning viewer, perhaps on the lookout for a sci-fi film that has story depth as well as good action, you are going to be disappointed.
This is more Gemini Man than Tenet, with little to offer other than some fairly well-orchestrated action scenes. It’s easy to see why it slipped onto streaming services (Amazon Prime in the UK, Paramount+ in the States), as a cinema release would surely have garnered it more negative word of mouth than it is currently getting.
I have the feeling that this was intended to be the first of a franchise. Whether or not another film appears, we will have to wait and see. Personally, I doubt it, unless it can be reincarnated into something that offers far more than the slapdash sci-fi mumbo jumbo that we get here.