Well, they’re not wrong about the “infinite” stuff. Infinite has damn near infinite levels of:
• embarrassing dialogue
• ridiculous vehicular chases
• dangerous ideas about mental illness
• shocking lack of imagination
• charmless performances.
It’s like this year’s The Old Guard: Infinite is immortals (sorta) out to save humanity (albeit from themselves), except very rote and very stupid and very familiar. Oh my god, is it familiar. This is a shameless retread of The Matrix, shorn of all metaphor and profundity and humanity, keeping only the bare, unself-aware skeleton of wish-fulfilling male fantasy. Is a dude sleepwalking through life about to discover that he is, in fact, super-duper-special, the only guy who can save the world? Yes. Yes, he is.
Someone change the damn record already.
Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg: Scoob!, Mile 22) is “a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence” who is “not crazy, I’m just misunderstood.” He also has the otherwise-lost master-craftsman skills of a legendary medieval Japanese swordmaker, but apparently none of the doctors who drugged him up thought that was worth investigating. No, he needs a mysterious hot chick in leather (Sophie Cookson: Red Joan, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) to tell him that he’s actually one of a small group of people who can remember all their past lives, that “the answers you’ve been looking for all your life” await, and that “maybe destiny has something more in store for you.”
“You’re talking about reincarnation?” Evan scoffs, and then immediately buys it. He does that a lot: in the face of outrageous absurdities, he’s all “No way!” and then, 30 seconds later, “Well, aw right, then.” Scriptwriters Ian Shorr and Todd Stein — working from the novel The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz — do not have the skill to capably dispense with the journey part of the hero’s journey. And yet, somehow, the movie also struggles to get to the moment in which Evan accepts his reality even though reincarnation is announced as fact in his voiceover in its opening moments.
The levels of ineptitude in the storytelling here is just about the only depth Infinite has.
Anyway, you will likely be unsurprised to discover that there are two warring factions of reincarnates: Infinites, who want to make the world better, and Nihilists, who want to destroy the world. (The movie is much more interested in the destruction stuff; it appears to have no idea what improving the world would constitute, or what the Infinites have been keeping themselves busy with all these centuries.) The Nihilists are led by Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor: Locked Down, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil), who was of course “once friends” with Treadaway, which is what Evan was called in his most recent previous life. (Dylan O’Brien [Love and Monsters, Bumblebee] plays him in some brief flashbacks to the 1980s. Sorry, Dylan fangirls: he’s barely in this movie.) This “once friends” stuff has no bearing whatsoever on anything. The clichés here are knee-jerk, even more unthinking than usual, just tossed in because, seemingly, no one can envisage a version of this story that doesn’t have them.
That’s why, for instance, even though there’s absolutely no reason why these Infinites and these Nihilists should be getting born and getting dead on the same schedule, they’re mostly all young, and hot, naturally. (Pay no attention to the fact that Wahlberg, who just this month turned 50, is too old to be the reincarnation of someone who died in the 1980s.) That’s why, for instance, the pitiful plot is mostly just about chasing the macguffin Bathurst needs to set his end-of-the-world scheme in motion. That’s why, for instance, Bathurst’s megaweapon, the one he uses to (allegedly) terrifying effect on the Infinites, is the very thing that would solve, for his own self, the same existential agita his megaweapon is meant to cure.
We often say that it’s a mystery why a movie like this — so labored, so lazy — exists at all. But Infinite, which is nothing if not overwhelmingly bored with itself, seems to go out of its way to render everything it is saying and doing as irrelevant. Perhaps it realizes, if only subconsciously, that it is a last gasp of a dying breed. Can Hollywood please stop reincarnating these movies now?