With film studio Paramount having launched its streaming service Paramount +, it seemed fitting to watch its first drawcard feature Infinite (2021) starring the ever bankable Mark Wahlberg. This comes some months after Amazon Prime’s recent sci-fi thriller The Tomorrow War (2021), starring an equably bankable Chris Pratt in the lead role. While The Tomorrow War had a relatively tolerable premise, Infinite is an insufferable mess that proves studios are willing to throw their money at just about anything as long as Wahlberg is in it.
To say that Mark Wahlberg is the problem would be an oversight. His performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) is as iconic today as it was over 20 years ago, and he seems to have found a resonance with Michael Bay — having shone in Pain and Gain (2013) and the last of Bay’s two Transformers films. However, Infinite reduces Wahlberg’s often fast-talking and physical performance to a dreary and tedious display that can only be summed up by Wahlberg’s own confused facial expressions as events of the film unfold.
Antoine Fuqua is known for his action packed films like Training Day (2001), The Equalizer (2014) and frequent collaborations with the likes of Denzel Washington (who won an Oscar for Training Day), Jake Gyllenhaal, and now Mark Wahlberg (both of whom he has worked with twice). However, Infinite represents a departure from a simple action premise to something more akin to Doug Liman’s dreadful action sci-fi, Jumper (2008). It is adapted from D. Erik Maikranz’s 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers (which is, by all accounts, equally underwhelming).
Infinite is essentially about a small group of people known as the infinites who are pretty much reincarnated after they die, in the sense that they can eventually remember their past lives and skills obtained in those lives. Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), who is known to the other reincarnated as Heinrich Treadway (one of his past reincarnation names), lives most of his new life never really knowing he is one of the reincarnated and is instead diagnosed as a schizophrenic. What Evan doesn’t know is that somewhere in his memories lies the location of an object known as the egg, which the infinites are trying to find before Ted (Chiwetel Ejiofor), another infinite who goes by the name of Bathurst, finds it.
Fuqua essentially orients his film around this plot device and creates a goose chase for his characters in the process. This plot device is desired by Bathurst who wants to harness it to destroy the world so that there is nothing left to reincarnate to — effectively rendering the reincarnation process as finished. The problem with the film is that it relies too much on this specific object as a catalyst for creating cause and effect, and this leaves the events of the film lacking substance.
Mark Wahlberg looks confused and bored for most of the film, with his real flair coming during the action set pieces, which themselves amount to nothing as they are too few and far. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character is also incredibly underwritten and exists purely for the sake of being an antagonist — he delivers some lines about his purpose, kills off some equally underwritten characters, and is waterboarded with gasoline for some reason. In essence, both the protagonist and antagonist are uninspired, especially when compared to The Tomorrow War’s protagonist and alien entity which are miles better for an action sci-fi.
Perhaps Antoine Fuqua should have found a way to incorporate another 40minutes for greater clarity (seeing as Paramount already seemed set on going all in on this) or perhaps he should have focused on releasing one feature this year instead of two, seeing as The Guilty (2021) arrives later this year. Regardless, Infinite is a forgettable viewing experience and is a reminder that Michael Bay is still the only director to get the best out of Wahlberg in the last 20 years. Lets hope Paramount can bring its lacking streaming service some content worth audiences time and money.
Infinite is now streaming on Paramount +