Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite is one of those movies where the hero suddenly gets rescued in a daring raid after an ally crashes a vehicle through the wall of wherever the hero is being held. One has to wonder: how did the person driving the vehicle know that their friend/colleague/lover/boss wasn’t directly on the other side of the wall and turned into paste when they smashed through it?
Normally we might let something like that go if the rest of the movie entertains or makes up for it, but Infinite doesn’t do either. In addition to that cliché rescue maneuver (which is followed by a destructive and pointless car chase through the inside of a police station), the film contains a string of laughably implausible and uninspired action sequences while borrowing freely and liberally from films like The Old Guard, The Matrix, Nobody, Avengers: Infinity War, and any of the X-Men entries.
Mark Wahlberg and his eternally furrowed brow star as Evan McCauley, a down-on-his-luck everyman who can’t get a job because of his past history of apparent mental illness and psychotic breaks. After McCauley is arrested following an incident with some gangbangers, he’s interrogated at that doomed police station by a man named Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who threatens to kill McCauley unless he remembers his true identity.
McCauley is rescued by a woman named Nora Brightman (Sophie Cookson from the Kingsman movies), who informs him that he, she, Bathurst, and others are among the less than 500 human beings on Earth known as Infinites, who can all remember every detail of every past life they’ve lived, including the skills they acquired each time at bat. That’s why McCauley can effortlessly craft a samurai sword last made in Edo era Japan: he remembers when he did it the first time back then.
The Infinites, of course, are split into two camps: the Believers, who treat their ability as a gift with which to better humankind, and the Nihilists, who see it as a curse. The latter are led by Bathurst, who wants to eradicate all life on Earth essentially because all his accumulated memories give him a headache and he doesn’t want to keep getting reincarnated. He used to be close friends with McCauley, whose real name is Heinrich Treadway and who was a sort of super-Infinite when he looked like Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) in a previous life.
Scripted by Ian Shorr and based on a 2009 novel called The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz, Infinite is set in a vaguely futuristic version of now: there’s lots of high-tech gadgetry, a secret hideout called the Hub, and even a kooky mad genius named the Artisan (played by Jason Mantzoukas), who shows up for comic relief in the usual spot reserved for these types near the end of the second act. He fails at his mission, however, since this movie takes itself too damn seriously. There’s also something called the Egg, which should be renamed the Egg McGuffin, since it’s the device that Bathurst is determined to acquire so he can dust the human race like a certain purple Titan we know.
Fuqua has proven himself a capable director when he’s handed good material, as in movies like Training Day or the flawed yet decent The Equalizer, and assisted by strong performers like Denzel Washington. But sci-fi is not his wheelhouse; the ideas here have been done to death many times before and the action plunges into the realm of the ridiculous—such as one scene in which Wahlberg leaps mid-air from a motorcycle off a cliff and onto the wing of an airplane—without, say, the winking self-awareness of the Fast and Furious movies. Everything here is portentous, heavy-handed, and listless, with the movie literally dragging itself through its bloated 106 minutes.
Wahlberg doesn’t do his director any favors either, giving a monotone performance that makes us wonder how and why the apparently brilliant and near superhuman Treadway is the film’s Chosen One. The normally elegant Ejiofor, meanwhile, plays to the cheap seats in a manic, histrionic workout that occasionally channels Paul Giamatti at his worst (think The Amazing Spider-Man 2). And Cookson leaves no impression at all while Mantzoukas mugs through whatever other film is running in his head.
The globetrotting production (it was shot in London, Mexico City, Cardiff, Nepal and other locations) looks expensive and was once slated for the big screen back in 2020 before the pandemic arrived. But Paramount Pictures decided to move it this year to the recently rebranded Paramount+ streaming service where this generic, derivative nonsense will probably fit better anyway. It already plays more like something the Netflix algorithm burped up on an off-cycle.
Infinite begins streaming on Paramount+ today, June 10.