Mark Wahlberg & Dylan O’Brien Need a Role Reversal in Reincarnation Thriller
Director Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg tackle reincarnation in an absurdly plotted, but ass-kicking action film. Infinite tells the story of a select few who remember their previous lives when they are born again. “The Believers” embrace this gift and try to better humanity. “The Nihilists” consider it a curse and resort to drastic means to embrace death. Based on the novel, “The Reincarnationist Papers” by D. Eric Maikranz, Infinite has an intriguing set-up that’s fumbled by a poorly written script. The film also has a scenario where two lead actors should have switched parts. A protagonist role reversal would have improved the narrative and cast chemistry.
Infinite opens with a spectacular car chase in Mexico City. Its deadly results have serious ramifications for the future. Decades later in present day New York City, Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) is a severe schizophrenic who struggles finding work. His only source of relief from intense hallucinations and nightmares are powerful anti-psychotic meds. McCauley supports himself by making Japanese katana swords. He’s never had any training as a blacksmith or in metallurgy. But can somehow craft and use these exquisite weapons.
McCauley is arrested after trying to secure his medication. He’s interrogated at an NYPD precinct by a terrifying man. Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lays several objects before him. He threatens McCauley with a game of Russian roulette. Identify what belonged to him in a past life or die. McCauley is rescued in breathtaking fashion by a mysterious woman (Sophie Cookson) in an armored supercar. As he struggles to understand the scope of what’s happening, his savior has one critical question. Are you the reincarnation of Heinrich Treadway (Dylan O’Brien)?
Infinite has a few similarities to The Matrix. A quiet and troubled man may be a new version of the greatest warrior that ever lived. The characters also have nifty names like “The Artisan”. If only the script were as detailed and well-executed. infinite jumps from scene to scene with little connectivity. Bad guys appear out of nowhere at every turn. They find secret locations in seconds that supposedly have been hidden for years. Then you have the ludicrous, world-ending machinations of the villain. Chiwetel Ejiofor, a tremendous actor, comes off as cartoonish. He’s surrounded by fashion model henchwomen that specialize in sneering. I found myself laughing out loud at several scenes. That’s not a desired or expected reaction.
Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) is a skilled action director and continues that trend here. Solid action throughout rescues the film from its failures. The vehicle chases are hard-hitting and ferocious. The shootouts and swordplay are equally well-done. Infinite is loaded with duels between lethal adversaries. They face off in highly cinematic locations. Standout scenes on a crane and crashing plane deliver the big-budget goods. The film can be enjoyed on a pure action basis.
Dylan O’Brien and Mark Wahlberg needed to reverse roles. In the context of the story, it makes more sense for a younger, more dynamic actor to play Evan McCauley. Wahlberg, older and an established action commodity, would have been believable as Heinrich Treadway. O’Brien makes an impact with limited screen time. Anyone who’s seen American Assassin knows he has the chops to carry an action blockbuster. An opportunity was lost on several fronts for a better film. Infinite is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Closest to the Hole Productions, and New Republic Pictures. It will be released June 10th exclusively on Paramount+.
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