Neverending Review: Mark Wahlberg has previous lives in this generic actioner
Watch out Infinite, it’s no great surprise that Paramount decided to release it on their new streaming service Paramount + instead of bringing it to theaters, despite the fact that theaters are coming back and audiences eager to leave their homes after vaccination . The movie is poorly written, its plot is boring and derivative, and it feels like a waste of time for everyone involved including the viewer. It’s a superhero knockoff image for a studio that doesn’t have superhero traits, and that approach makes it feel like a dumber, less stylish version from 2008 Searched. The only aspect that Infinite is remotely interesting is what it says about Star Mark Wahlberg at this point in his career and how he not only constrains himself but constrains the film by playing the most uninteresting version of his familiar archetype.
Evan McCauley (Wahlberg) believes he has schizophrenia because he has memories of previous lives and knowledge of things he never learned, but he is actually an “infinite” person, with perfect memories of his past lives was born. The infinite are at war with each other. There are the “believers” who fight for the advancement of mankind, and then there are the “nihilists” who think mankind is lost and want to obliterate everything so that they can stop being born again. Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) looking for The Egg, a doodad who will obliterate humanity and bring him the oblivion he and his followers are seeking. Evan struggles to get antipsychotic medication in his daily life, but when he is pushed into the middle of the never-ending war and learns its true legacy, he discovers that the secret of the egg’s location and how to do it prevents the nihilists from seeing it all Destroy life on earth.
Image via Paramount +
In the first act you realize that Infinite is really struggling because it’s cluttered with so much exposure. There is a prologue that includes a chase before we get to Evan, who wakes up “in this life” and then treats us to a prologue with voice over of his troubles before going to an interview with someone more told about Evan’s past. He is told more about his life and then meets with the devout Nora (Sophie Cookson), who has to tell him about the war and his past life as a heroic Treadway (Dylan O’brien -> actor) and only when you get to act two can the movie finally have a plot and move forward instead of everyone telling Evan who he is and why he is important and what bigger conflict he is now a part of.
But even if the plot gains some momentum, while believers and nihilists (and it’s impossible to think of the term “nihilists” without hearing Peter Stormare say, “We don’t believe in anything, Lebowski!”) Never stops to be funny when characters in all seriousness say “We need the egg!” or “He knows where to find the egg!” like this Jawas on The Mandalorian) you still have an incredibly nonsensical story that gets more and more stupid the more it tries to expand its mythology. Bathurst, for example, has a weapon that fires special bullets that steal the consciousness of an infinite and upload it to a digital chip. We are held captive. But if Bathurst’s whole theme is his desire to stop reincarnating, why not shoot yourself with a soul ball and stop the reincarnation process? The movie kind of kills it by saying that it just hates humanity so much, but again it seems that it can end its existence as a microchip to solve that problem.
Image via Paramount
However, Infinite has a much bigger problem with the cast of Wahlberg, who also acts as one of the movie’s producers. The film puts Evan out of a weak spot. He has been displaced, he is dependent on antipsychotics, he cannot get a job and he does not understand his place in the world. He’s an everyone character who’s in a tough personal situation, and that’s not Mark Wahlberg, a guy who gets up at 2:30 a.m. so he can work out from 3:40 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. In addition, Wahlberg seldom tries to dispel this image in his films. Even when he’s doing dramatic work, he’s still someone who rests on his physique and harshness, as in recent films like. you can see Day of the Patriots and Deep water horizon. Wahlberg rarely makes “vulnerable,” and that’s a problem for the character of Evan, who has to wake up to a world that basically chooses him as the chosen one. For an actor who looks like the average guy (or as average as the Hollywood movie allows it), this can work, but for Wahlberg the movie portrays him as “Awesome Guy Who Becomes More Awesome” Character is “I’m a badass with some misinterpreted mental problems and these mental problems are actually just a sign of how much more of a badass I am,” you don’t really have a character arc, or even a lot of it a trip. It’s just a race to sprinkle the doodad with a few uninspired action scenes.
Wahlberg turned 50 recently, almost 25 years after his role in Boogie nights that allowed people to take him seriously as an actor and not Marky Mark, it’s strange to see where he has come to at this point in his career. He’s nowhere near the only actor in his 50s still playing action roles, but for Wahlberg, his action roles don’t make him stand out in an interesting way. Maybe he likes working with a trustworthy director like Peter Berg in the Spenser confidential or back together with his Sagittarius director Antoine Fuqua like here at Infinite, but when you watch this film you can feel the landscape leaving Wahlberg behind. He doesn’t really have a franchise to own at a time when franchises are king, and even something like that to come Unexplored will belong Tom Holland just like Wahlberg. Yes, Infinite has Wahlberg in his element as a tough action hero, but it’s also a film that drifts strangely and clings to relevance in an age of intellectual property.
Image via Paramount +
On the one hand, some actors can survive the audience’s IP affinity because they have the versatility to be the point of attraction and do something new and exciting, and that’s where Wahlberg gets into trouble. There’s nothing special about movies like Spenser confidential or Infinite, and they are certainly far from Wahlberg’s more interesting appearances in dramas like The fighter and three Kings or even comedies like Ted and The other guys. Why bother? I suppose there is the financial incentive, but Wahlberg has been around long enough (and has enough say in a production as a producer) to choose something more exciting than something as disposable as Infinite. Sure he’s got dramas like that Joe Bell and the belief-based image Stu, but is that really going to the extreme for Wahlberg, who has to put himself in a heroic form again and again, let alone in a figure of every shade? Some will argue that Wahlberg is incapable of that kind of reach, but I would argue that he can (and has done) and yet has reached a point in his career where he doesn’t.
That leads to disappointing efforts like Infinite that don’t get a huge response at all. Perhaps the best thing for Wahlberg in efforts like Spenser Confidential and Infinite is that they’re just grist to the content mill of their respective streaming services. He got paid, worked with directors he likes, and he moves on to the next, and these next things can arguably be more personal projects like Joe Bell and Stu. But Wahlberg clearly wants to remain an action hero, which is fine. He’s got the build and charisma for it, but if he wants to keep playing this game he’ll have to find far better projects than the ridiculously bad Infinite.
READ ON: ‘Good Joe Bell’ Review: A Movie With Good Intentions That Sends Bad News | TIFF 2020
New Jurassic World: Dominion poster reveals expanded footage will be shown at F9 IMAX screenings
“F9” hits theaters on June 25th.
About the author
(14967 articles published)
Matt Goldberg has been an editor at Collider since 2007. As the site’s chief film critic, he has written hundreds of reviews and covered major film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and their dog Jack.
More from Matt Goldberg