Skip to main content

Infinite review: Mark Wahlberg’s sci-fi adventure is a waste of good lives

There’s plenty of pedigree behind Infinite, the sci-fi thriller from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua that casts two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg as a diagnosed schizophrenic who discovers that his hallucinations are actually the memories and accumulated experiences of past lives.

The film pits Wahlberg’s character against a similarly reincarnating — but fully aware — villain played by Oscar-nominated 12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor, and was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who famously shepherded both The Matrix and Transformers franchises to the screen. The movie’s concept is also pretty slick, with two factions of characters who wield a wide array of abilities, expertise, and wealth gained from their past lives battling it out across the globe — one trying to protect humanity while the other tries to end their infinite reincarnation by wiping out all life on Earth.

Early reports on screenwriter Ian Shorr’s script, adapted from D. Eric Maikranz’s 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers, described the film’s vibe as “Wanted meets The Matrix.” Collectively, all of those elements set a fairly high bar for Infinite, so it’s unfortunate that all of those impressive qualities are wasted on a thoroughly disappointing film.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Chaos over character

Right from its opening scene, which features a wildly destructive high-speed car chase that would’ve felt right at home in a Fast and Furious sequel or one of the aforementioned Transformers movies, Infinite seems intent on dispensing with any of the more cerebral aspects of its characters’ lore and going all-in on physics-defying, maximum carnage spectacle. We’re given a glimpse of the most recent final moments of the main characters, essentially superhero secret agents capable of pulling off unbelievable feats with cars, guns, and inexplicably (at that point) a samurai sword while being pursued by legions of faceless villains and disposable law enforcement.

It’s the sort of scene that plays perfectly fine in countless big-budget action and sci-fi franchises, but Infinite falls back on it over and over throughout its 106-minute running time, often at the expense of any character development or narrative work that would make the stakes in the frantic sequences feel consequential. Scenes like this work in franchises like The Fast and the Furious and Transformers because you care (at least a little bit) what happens to the characters. Infinite, however, never bothers to try making its characters interesting, let alone relatable.

Shortly after we’re introduced to Wahlberg’s character and his uncertain psychological state, the film puts him at the center of yet another ridiculously chaotic car chase — this time featuring two armored vehicles plowing through a crowded metropolis intended to be Manhattan — and from that point on, the action sequences blur together in a near-constant frenzy of explosions and destruction for the remainder of the film. Neither Wahlberg’s character nor his supporting cast of “Infinites” (the name given to the film’s reincarnating characters) are given any development beyond what’s necessary to put them in place for the next death-defying set piece, making the film feel less like an unfolding story and more like a movie mayhem sizzle reel.

Infinite | Official Trailer | Paramount+

Wasted potential

Although the film puts carnage over character development at nearly every opportunity, Infinite does manage to hint at what it could have been just enough to make you frustrated with the film it ended up being.

A scene in which Ejiofor’s character tortures another “Infinite” played by Emmy-nominated veteran actor Toby Jones is one of the film’s most fun to watch, and amazingly, it doesn’t even involve a single explosion. Both actors chew up the scenery as they engage in a bit of over-the-top verbal sparring, and the short scene ends up delivering more entertainment value than much of the 100 minutes of footage surrounding it.

Comedic actor Jason Mantzoukas (The League, The Dictator) also does an admirable job of adding some levity to the film’s cast, but his otherwise fun performance is ultimately overshadowed by the movie’s desire for a constant stream of high-speed pursuits, gun battles, and other effects-driven action sequences.

Is it over yet?

Given the bona fides of the film’s cast and creative team, it seemed reasonable to expect an entertaining adventure from Infinite — and at worst, dumb fun — but the final product underwhelms at even the low end of expectations.

With a story more meager and patched together than any of di Bonaventura or Wahlberg’s Transformers films, and lacking any of the dramatic weight of Fuqua or Ejiofor’s prior projects, Infinite is a disappointment across the board — and makes a strong case for being one of its cast members’ and director’s worst films. That it’s filled with characters who pride themselves on using their vast archive of memories (while offering few examples of doing so in the film) makes it even more annoying that the film ends up being so forgettable.

Sure, Ejiofor’s villainous character is intended to be evil for wanting to bring an early end to Infinite‘s tale of death and rebirth, but after sitting through nearly two hours of unoriginal action scenes in Infinite without any semblance a story to stitch them together, he might have been on to something.

Antoine Fuqua and Mark Wahlberg’s Infinite is available now on the Paramount+ streaming service.

Editors' Recommendations

Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
3 best sci-fi movies of 2023 so far
Three people aim their guns in They Cloned Tyrone.

In addition to several outstanding superhero movies that could also be classified as sci-fi, 2023 has delivered a surprising amount of original science fiction worth watching. The best sci-fi movies of the year prove that sci-fi is a genre that can contain multitudes, including everything from comedy to downright horror.

Although each of these movies could be classified as something other than sci-fi, there’s no denying that each of them also has strong roots in science fiction, and they take full advantage of what the genre has to offer. 
Infinity Pool (2023)
INFINITY POOL - Official Trailer

Read more
5 sci-fi movies on Disney+ that are perfect to watch in the summer
WALL-E reaching out to a ring system in "WALL-E."

When you think of Disney, the first thing you think of probably isn't science fiction. Over its long history as a dream factory, Disney has been known first and foremost for fairytales and flights of fancy, but science fiction and futurism have always been central to the Disney project.

Walt Disney himself was obsessed with the subject, and over their long history as a company, Disney has been associated with a number of the best science fiction stories ever told. And, thanks to some crafty acquisitions, it has also acquired several massive sci-fi properties. With all that in mind, these are the best sci-fi movies you can watch on Disney+ now.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Read more
5 sci-fi movies on Netflix that need to be seen right now
Kirk and Spock look at each other in "Star Trek" (2009).

Science fiction remains a tentpole genre in modern cinema, and Netflix has tons of sci-fi films for audiences to stream online.

With stories featuring robots, aliens, and everything in-between, there are plenty of enjoyable movies for sci-fi fans to beam themselves into on their next film night. However, these five Netflix movies should definitely be at the top of viewers' watch lists.
The End of Evangelion (1997)

Read more