Antoine Fuqua has always been a hit-or-miss filmmaker for me sometimes churning out films I much enjoyed like “The Magnificent Seven” remake, “Southpaw”, and arguably his best movie to date “Training Day”. But there are occasions where his movies are a little less enjoyable like with “King Arthur” which I saw as a bloated mess and the “Equalizer” duology which, while fun, always felt derivative to me. However, what is in my opinion the worst movie he’s ever made happens to be his latest, the Paramount+ original film “Infinite”. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson and Dylan O’Brien, “Infinite” follows a group of individuals who, as the name suggests, live infinitely being reincarnated over and over retaining their skills and memories while trying to maintain balance in the world around them. Based on a 2009 novel by D. Eric Maikranz, “Infinite” borrows nearly everything from superior previous movies offering very little in the way of originality or memorability, making it an absolute slog to sit through as one of the year’s worst movie.
So, in case that first paragraph didn’t convince you enough to stay away from this film, here’s why it’s so bad. “Infinite” follows Mark Wahlberg’s Evan McCauley who is the latest reincarnation of a legendary “Infinite” named Heinrich Treadway and holds the key in his memories to destroying a weapon sought after by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Bathurst, the leader of a group of Infinites bent on destroying all life to prevent themselves from reincarnating having been disillusioned by their past lives. It sounds like an interesting concept, but it’s not. “Infinite” at its core is one of the most derivative, lazy and soulless movies of the year so far using its intriguing premise of warring immortal beings as nothing more than a setup to implement by-the-books sci-fi action cliches to pander to the lowest common denominator. We’ve already seen the “man discovers he’s a legendary warrior” idea done better in films like “Wanted” and “The Matrix” (and I know I’m not the first to compare this film to those movies) while last year we got a film from Netflix called “The Old Guard” with a similar idea of immortal humans that spanned history, although the characters there had genuinely influenced history for the better and were well developed. Here not only do the Infinites seem like people who have done little to help better the world around them over the years in the big picture, but the emotionless acting and the lack of character depth make this the antithesis of “The Old Guard”, as bad as that movie was good basically.
The main problem with “Infinite” is that it tries to be like everyone else with little to define it from the crowd. Predictable action set pieces and plot twists, an overuse of CGI as well as clear franchise building over telling a good self-contained story mean that “Infinite” makes all the same mistakes as every other generic action thriller these days ironically living up to its name by continuing and infinite loop of mediocrity. The lifeless performances by pretty much everyone except Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays a great villain as always, and Jason Mantzoukas, who plays the sarcastic Infinite Artisan and just seems to be having a blast with it, don’t exactly help matters much. Mark Wahlberg is a very capable actor as we’ve seen in many films, but this is less “The Departed” Wahlberg and closer to “The Happening” Wahlberg where he feels like he’s on autopilot. It astonishes me how someone can make the revelation that they’re an infinitely reincarnated master warrior feel so underwhelming. At least his co-stars Sophie Cookson, Dylan O’Brien and Toby Jones feel like they’re trying even if the material they’re working with do them zero favors.
But okay, so let’s say you’re not looking for cinematic art or character depth or originality like you SHOULD be looking for in a movie and you just want to watch a fun direct-to-video escapist adventure. Well even trying to look at this movie from that angle I still found myself yawning and wanting it to just be over. “Infinite” doesn’t even feel like a good B- or C-movie to me and maybe that’s because of all the talent that came together to make it. The whole experience, even as a potential big budget mockbuster type of movie, just feels so lifeless that it’s not even ironically entertaining. It’s just basic and predictable. The sad part is there was potential for this movie to be an interesting examination of the terrors of infinity. Now I didn’t read the book this movie was based on but just looking at the material provided in the film proper we could have been handed a provocative exploration of legacy and the potential horror of an existence that never ends. The villain, Bathurst, kind of touches on this idea as his main motivation was to stop existing so he can finally die permanently in peace, but he does this at the cost of all humanity so why not explore that more by examining whether or not their infinite lives meant something beyond generic superhero “let’s save the world” stuff? Maybe put more exploration into whether humanity deserves to perish after all the horrors that Bathurst has seen? Maybe do a more in-depth exploration of the randomness of existence discussing how some people are born into great situations while others suffer through atrocities through nothing but an accident of faith. It would have been neat to see Evan and Bathurst explore their differing ideals and why they have these differences especially seeing they maintain the memories of their past lives. Pose the question, is life worth saving and can people change their destinies despite the hand they’re dealt. Instead, we have a bland hero and a downplayed villain just duking it out like every other basic action movie out there and that’s just not enough anymore.
So, to put it bluntly, “Infinite” is just terrible. This is the kind of movie that once it’s finished I ask myself who needed the paycheck and “why did I bother”. Bland performances, a forgettable and derivative story and identity, and an unwillingness to delve into its deeper ideas and potential add up to a film that, as its name suggests, feels like it lasts forever and continues a never ending dependence on “acceptable mediocrity” that, for some reason, sometimes still sells in today’s cinema. While I commend some of the performers, especially Ejiofor, for proving that even the blandest material can earn some respect with the right actor at the helm, “Infinite” provided little else to keep me invested or to warrant and recommendation. If you’ve seen a sci-fi action movie in the last twenty years you’ve seen most if not all of what “Infinite” has to offer. While for some that familiarity might be welcomed and enjoyable, for me it makes this a truly basic, forgettable and unwatchable mess.