Infinite is the type of movie that makes you truly appreciate sci-fi films like The Matrix and what they were able to accomplish with characters and storytelling while also doing things visually that would just blow your mind as a viewer. Infinite looks good as far as an action films go, but unlike The Matrix, it simply pretends to be delivering a deeper, philosophical experience when in reality all its doing is continuously throwing a bunch of sci-fi jargon at the audience without ever saying much of anything.
The story, which is loosely based on the novel ‘The Reincarnation Papers’ by D. Eric Maikranz, follows Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), a diagnosed schizophrenic that was once institutionalized and because of this he has difficulty getting a job, and in turn, being able to afford his medication. Through voice over he asks the audience if we’ve ever just known how to do something without ever being taught. This question is asked while Evan forges a katana sword to perfection, while we see glimpses of an old Japanese bladesmith doing the same motions as Evan does them. This sword is being made for a small-time drug dealer who supplies Evan with meds as payment, but when the deal falls through Evan is arrested and confronted by a man named Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who tells Evan that they’ve known one another for centuries.
Just as Bathurst is beginning to break through to Evan a car smashes through the police station wall and a woman named Nora (Sophie Cookson) tells Evan to get in. He does so and they escape, and Nora explains to him that he’s not actually schizophrenic, and that the visions he sees are actually those of his past life. There are roughly 500 people in the world who have this ability, and they’re broken into two groups: the Believers and the Nihilists. The Believers view this ability to remember past lives as a gift they can use to make the world a better place, whereas the Nihilists see it as a curse and want to exterminate all life on Earth and free themselves of the never-ending cycle. Both sides believe that Evan is the reincarnation of a man named Treadway, and that he holds knowledge that will turn the tide in the war once and for all – once he remembers it, at least.
Infinite is directed by Antoine Fuqua, and that right there is enough to me to pay admission, as I love the intensity his action films bring. Here is no different, as the sole reason to enjoy this film at all is due to the crazy action sequences that take place throughout. The problem is that Infinite believes that it has more to offer than that when it really doesn’t. In the special features it’s even mentioned that when certain scenarios are happening that involve scientific/sci-fi explanations that they’re purposely vague with what things do, which just shows a lack of foresight more than anything.
To think audiences will simply be impressed with someone saying, “This flickering light chair will pull memories out of you by triggering places in your brain through electricity,” or whatever it may have been is ridiculous. There may have been a time when that could slide by as long as the film was entertaining, but it’s a bit harder to swallow these days with so much strong competition in the genre out there that has simply done it better. There’s a proper way to do this that will draw audiences in and keep them captivated, and then there’s the way Infinite chooses to go, which just makes everything seem nonsensical in hopes you’ll just stop thinking about it once the next bit of action begins.
It also doesn’t help that the film lacks any and all heart, and there’s zero emotional connection to any of the characters in this life or their past lives. In order for a movie to really matter, audiences have to care about the stakes and what the good guys are fighting for – or even better, also understand and possibly even sympathize with why the antagonists believe what they do. With Infinite we have a very black and white, clear cut good guy and bad guy and there’s simply nothing more to it, despite how much the movie wants to make you believe otherwise.
The main issue with this lack of connection to the characters is that as a viewer it’s just hard to care what happens to any of them. Going back to The Matrix, when Neo is trying to wrap his head around things the audience is right there with him, when Cypher betrays them we’re shocked, but we also get it, and when characters like Trinity are at risk we’re so invested that we feel the pain of those around them. Now, this may seem silly in hindsight, but back when I first saw The Matrix in theaters and Neo gets shot repeatedly after opening the door, I was so invested that I believed he may actually be dead. For some reason I thought that it was possible that Trinity and Morpheus were wrong, and that Neo wasn’t the one. That the film would end with that twist and a sequel would see them needing to find someone new.
Now, I get how silly this may seem, and writing it out its hard to describe just how quickly all this went through my mind as I watched. I wasn’t thinking logically, I was thinking emotionally because I cared about the characters, their mission and what was happening. So when Neo then rose up and stopped the influx of bullets heading his way I was ecstatic. I let out a fist-pump – as one does in those moments – and was just so elated at all that came next. That’s the power of being invested in the characters, and that’s exactly what’s lacking in Infinite.
There’s a moment midway through the film where the Believers mention something to Evan about Treadway being able to manipulate the energy around him or something along those lines, and I say it like that because it’s touched on so quickly and then never mentioned again that I completely forgot about it – until the third act, when Infinite wants to have its ‘wow’ moment like Neo had. The problem is there’s zero connection, and the moment is not earned, so there’s no fist-pumping, there’s no elation, there’s simply a pause while your brain figures out what’s happening followed by a fleeting thought of, “Oh, right, that energy control thing.” What’s worse is that this moment doesn’t even matter. Nothing comes of it, which makes it all the more baffling that it was included at all.
Infinite is a film that believes that it has an interesting story to tell, and early on it does make you think that you’re in for quite the ride; but it never builds a proper foundation when it comes to world building or strong enough characters to really do so, and in the end it’s all style and no substance. Instead of being memorable and something that’s highly recommended, Infinite ends up being just entertaining enough to pass as a mindless action flick to watch if you’re bored on a rainy Sunday and just want to see some crazy action sequences directed by Fuqua play out.
4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review
The film looks fantastic, which is another check in the pros column that makes the film easier to take in despite the weaker story. The 4K transfer looks magnificent across the board in Dolby Vision, from the fluid, sharp action sequences, to the slower scenes where mostly dialogue is taking place. The colours are rich, the special effects blend in seamlessly, and the blacks are deep. If you’re a fan of mindless action that looks spectacular and you’re not worried about logistics then you’ll be set here.
The audio is also top tier, with the 5.1 Dolby Atmos magnifying the action in every way enjoyable. The soundtrack and sound effects work wonders to help make the action scenes have that much more impact in your living room. The dialogue is also nice and clean, and it never has to do battle with any other aspect of film’s sound, which is great.
They Call Themselves Infinites – This first featurette comes in at just under 8-minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talking about how the film came to be, working on the film, and the usual expected talking points for a featurette like this. If you enjoyed the film then giving these a quick watch will likely be of interest.
The Kinetic Action of Infinite – Next up we’ve got a behind-the-scenes look at the opening chase scene in the film and it comes in at just under 9-minutes in length. This is a great chase scene and well worth a watch.
Anatomy of a Scene: Police Station & Forest – With the action being the main reason to tune in to the movie, these deeper looks at some of the film’s bigger action sequences are the reason to stick around for the bonus features! This one comes in at just under 13-minutes in length and focuses on the police station escape, as well as the forest attack during the film’s climactic battle.
Infinite Time – Lastly we have a brief featurette that comes in at just about five minutes and focuses on the fight within the plane during the climax, as well as the crew talking about how important the ability to manipulate energy is, and how earned the payoff is — which is ludicrous, as neither are true. The plane stuff is fun to watch, at least.
Paramount Pictures Presents Infinite. Directed by: Antoine Fuqua. Written by: Ian Shorr, Todd Stein. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson, Dylan O’Brien, Jason Mantzoukas, Toby Jones, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson. Running time: 106 minutes. Rating: 14A. 4K Blu-ray Released: Dec. 7, 2021.
Tags: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dylan O’Brien, Infinite, Jason Mantzoukas, Mark Wahlberg, Sophie Cookson