So what sort of gonzo nonsense have Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg cooked up now?
“Infinite” is about humans who wander the Earth, “gifted with a memory of all their past lives.” Wahlberg plays an “Infinite” who has forgotten his. Because of course he has.
It squares him up against Chiwetel Ejiofor, who shaves his head and grew a James Harden beard because that’s what all the best villains are wearing. He says things like “Impossible, impossible,” when staring at his foe, hanging onto the tsuka (“handle”) of a samurai sword we’ve seen him forge himself.
He’s hanging on to that tsuka because he’s jabbed the sword through the wing of a military transport jet and it’s all that’s keeping him from being blown off.
“Infinite” has all sorts of absurd “Bugs Bunny physics” like that, and big fights and epic car chases in vintage Ferraris, Aston Martins and the like. Because it you remember all your past lives, you’re going to remember the coolest car you ever drove, right?
Here’s the money scene for me, one I’m assuming screenwriter Ian Shorr adapted from the novel, “The Reincarnationist Papers,” by D. Eric Mainkranz. The heavy, Bathhurst (Ejiofor) is about to interrogate this Evan fellow (Wahlberg) to determine if he’s his ancient foe, Treadway.
Bathurst vs. Treadway. Sounds like a British courtroom comedy, right?
Bathurst pulls out this collection of objects, a wine cork, a bullet casing, etc. “Which of these belongs to you?” If you’ve ever or read about the process of “identifying” a new Dali Lama, that’ll seem familiar. The reincarnated Lama will be the one who recognizes something he used to own. That’s a fact an author writing about reincarnation games would know.
Only here, Bathurst ups the ante. He adds a threat to the questioning. He loads a revolver with a single bullet, spins the cylinder, and pulls the trigger at Evan with every wrong answer. Maybe the next Dali Lama will face a similar game of Russian roulette.
“Infinite” is about a missing doomsday bomb called “The Egg,” which is “designed to kill every living thing on Earth.” As if anyone would want to use it. But apparently Bathurst does.
Before all this business about “Infinites” and their warring factions — “Believers vs. Nihilists,” a play of “The Big Lebowski’s” bowling league? — Evan thought he was just a “diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence.”
But he remembers things, things he just knew “how to do,” like turning iron into steel and forging it — “folding it 27 times” — into a sword.
Now he’s teamed with this tough, British “believer” (Sophie Cookson) who drags him hither and yon to try and figure out where “he” hid “the egg.” In a previous life.
Jason Mantzoukas of “The House” and “John Wick 3” and TV’s “Brooklyn-99” and “The Good Place” is “The Artisan,” a tech whiz/guru sort whom Mantzoukas turns into the guy having the most fun in this story.
He does that in every movie, and in a lot of animated TV shows as well. A LOT of them. Funny guy.
Wallis Day is here to give us that action pic moment when the tall, supermodel-thin blonde dons a black leotard and turtleneck and shows off her assassin skills. Before you can say “CAT FIGHT,” she and Cookson are mixing it up. It’s their destiny.
Evan? “Destiny has even more in store for you.”
Walhberg serves up some voice-over narration here which doesn’t sounds like him, an acting challenge he decided to trot out for a picture he had no idea would go streaming without a theatrical release.
It’s still an impressive looking movie, with grand stunts and some decent effects. And if Fuqua & Co. had taken a more askance view of this quintessentially goofy concept, they might have gotten an “Edge of Tomorrow” out of it, with Wahlberg and Ejiofor in on the joke.
They didn’t, opting for “gonzo nonsense” that’s as watchable as it is forgettable.
MPA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, some bloody images, strong language and brief drug use
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones, Kae Alexander, Wallis Day
Credits: Directed by Antoine Fuqua, script by Ian Shorr, based on the novel “The Reincarnationist Papers” by D. Eric Mainkranz. A Paramount+ release.
Running time: 1:46