Infinite (2021) Review

If I would have to sum up the latest Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg collaboration after previously worked together in 2007’s Shooter, Infinite turns out to be… infinitely clichéd.

Even the so-called high-concept premise itself is a mishmash of different ideas taken from various genre films, namely The Matrix (1999), Inception (2010) and even Netflix’s The Old Guard (2020). Infinite, which is actually based on D. Eric Maikranz’s novel The Reincarnationist Papers, opens with an extended Mexico City-set nighttime car chase scene that looks as if Fuqua is making a mini Fast & Furious film. Here, we learn about a young man (Dylan O’Brien’s Heinrich Treadway) who is being pursued by both cops and two determined couples, Leona (Joana Ribeiro) and Abel (Tom Hughes). Apparently, Treadway has something significant in his possession, which turns out to be a McGuffin in the form of a silver egg.

Later, as the film shifted to the present day (or “This Present Life” as written on the screen), we are introduced to another character named Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg), who suffers from schizophrenia. We see him trying to get a job working as security at a fine-dining restaurant, only to be completely dismissed due to his history of mental illness and poor employment record.

We also learn that McCauley has other skills and one of them is where he knows how to handcraft a samurai sword. And the thing is, he happens to possess such a skill through his fragmented memory. He trades the sword with a gangster in exchange for a bag of antipsychotic medications to help control his mental illness.

Sophie Cookson and Mark Wahlberg in Paramount+'s "Infinite" (2021)

When the deal goes awry, McCauley tries to escape and ends up getting arrested by the police. Long story short, Infinite is actually a movie about an age-old war between the Believers and the Nihilists. And McCauley, as we subsequently learn from his saviour — a Believer named Nora (Sophie Cookson), turns out to be an Infinite, who has the ability to reincarnate throughout different time and era.

Then, there’s a Nihilist named Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who first appeared in a police station’s interrogation room attempting to question McCauley’s true identity. Bathurst has a single goal in his life, which is obtaining the silver egg capable of “ending all life” because he’s got tired of being reincarnated (don’t ask).

Originally set to be released in cinemas last year but forced to delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Infinite ultimately ended up on the Paramount+ streaming platform. The film marks the first time that journeyman director Antoine Fuqua explored the sci-fi territory and he does so like he’s a work for hire than a visionary filmmaker.

Adapted by Ian Shorr of 2008’s Splinter, the film does little in terms of creating its own world-building and mythology surrounding reincarnation and gifted individuals who possess such a power. It’s all nothing but full of shamelessly borrowed ideas that are half-realised from start till finish. Sure, there are inevitable exposition-heavy moments that particularly dominated in the middle part of the film, hoping to get us to understand what the heck is all about. It’s just too bad Fuqua doesn’t really know what to do with the story that requires a huge suspension of disbelief. Or rather a make-believe story that we can at least feel invested by its concept.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Paramount+'s "Infinite" (2021)

The story is pretty much a letdown and so do the cast, beginning with Mark Wahlberg’s bland lead performance as a schizophrenic who has unexpectedly special sets of skills and power. He looks like a deer caught in headlights throughout the film and it doesn’t help either that his character is severely lacking personality. He’s rather miscast here and someone, say Keanu Reeves would fit the role better. His co-star, Sophie Cookson is equally wasted in her supporting role as Nora and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s antagonist turn is nothing more than your garden-variety, scenery-chewing villain.

Still, Infinite does have a few pacey moments to distract you from most of the film’s shortcomings. Certain action scenes are reasonably entertaining in a mindless kind of way, notably the car chase inside a police station and the final set-piece that takes place in and out of a plane.

Frankly, it’s a pity that there are infinite possibilities (no pun intended) that Fuqua can choose to explore in his latest film, given its reincarnation theme. He could have done something with multiple timelines set in different eras reminiscent of a Highlander style. Such a missed opportunity immediately reminded me of the same mistake previously done in The Old Guard, which also happens to explore story elements involving the past and present.

Infinite is currently streaming on Paramount+.