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Infinite (2022)::rating::1::rating::1

From its opening scene, Infinite breaks all the rules of good storytelling with hedonistic abandon.  We begin with a torrent of pedantic narration, delivered by Mark Wahlberg with all the enthusiasm of a groggy man reading the ingredients of Diet Pepsi.  As this pea-brained spiel of new age hooey assaults our ears, the movie unloads an incoherent, unexciting car chase that seems to defy the laws of physics, geography, spelling, and just about any other subject they teach in school.  Once this loud, overblown sequence finally dies down, Infinite kicks off a long, terrible stretch of stilted scenes and expositional dialogue that makes the Fast and Furious movies look like Richard III by comparison.

Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, a blue collar dude stuck in a life of quiet insignificance.  He suffers from frightening hallucinations and other sudden breaks from reality.  Like Jason Bourne, Evan’s mind brims with knowledge and handy skills, but he doesn’t remember learning any of them.  He pops black market anti-psychotic pills to control his visions, and desperately tries to manage his temper.  For most of Infinite‘s first act, Evan is a riff on Neo in The Matrix:  He’s a powerful soul, agitated and adrift in a world that doesn’t make sense.  All he needs is a guide to take him to a clearer purpose and some higher destiny.

This personal Morpheus arrives in the form of Nora (Sophie Cookson).  She’s a lethal young assassin who informs Evan that he’s actually the reincarnation of Heinrich Treadway, the ambitious leader of a cadre of immortal souls, known as Infinites.  These long-lived beings pass the wisdom and abilities they’ve accrued from one soul to the next.  Their nefarious counterparts are the Nihilists, who’ve grown frustrated with this never-ending existence.   Led by the charismatic Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor), this group has built a doomsday weapon called the Egg, which Heinrich stashed away in a previous life.  Now, Evan has the Egg’s current location hidden somewhere in his memories, and the film eventually becomes a footrace to find this terrible device.

I’m worried I’ve actually made this movie sound appetizing. That’s the curse of being so persuasive and…*checks nearby mirror, winks to himself* so devilishly handsome.  Trust me, this movie reads a lot better in a logline than it plays onscreen.  First off, the entire first act of the script barfs up important plot details, like a cat yakking up a hairball. Take, for example, an early scene where Bathurst interrogates Evan.  Or Kevin…or Hedgeway.  Whatever the hell his name is.  Bathurst spends half his dialogue reciting character details that Wahlberg’s guy already knows.  It’s horrible, clunky, and done solely for the benefit of a confused movie audience.  That goes ditto for Nora, who relentlessly spoon-feeds Elvin–or Heisenberg or Treadstone–gobs of information, until we grow numb from the sheer amount of plot this movie dumps all over us.

As for the performances, Wahlberg and company display all the enthusiasm of people who are fifteen minutes late to be somewhere better.  I swear I could see some of the actors stifling yawns, because they eventually got me doing it, too.  Only Ejiofor understands that this movie needs a dose of nutball fanaticism, and his wild-eyed turn as Bathworks is one of the few things keeping this lead balloon from thunking into the ground.  (A special shoutout must be made to Wahlberg’s biceps, which the filmmakers consistently accentuate with extra-short sleeves.  Whatever his salary was for this moldy stinkfest, somebody clearly gifted him two tickets to the gun show.)

If the lifeless acting doesn’t completely kill your faith in humanity, there’s a good chance the action scenes and accompanying special effects will go ahead and finish the job.  A massive waterfall at the good guys’ secret base looks like something out of MS Paint, while the some of the car chases could pass for cutscenes from a PS3 game.  The real kicker is a climactic stunt piece involving a motorcycle jump, a passing cargo plane, and a katana sword.  This howlingly bad sequence makes Fast 9 seem realistic, and that’s the one where the gang rides a rocket-mounted Pinto into outer space.

Strangely enough, those things aren’t the real killers of Infinite.  Junk food movies like this carry a special license to be goofy.  With some punchier writing, juicier performances, and maybe some faster MacBooks, this could’ve been turned into a passable guilty pleasure experience.  As is, Infinite is just loud, talky, and boring.  Just like its titular logo, this movie seems to never end.

106 min.  PG-13.  Paramount+.

 

 

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