Infinite Sits Firmly In Its Classic Action Subgenre
Infinite is a solid example of the subgenre of action movies where a person discovers they’re part of a secret world. It’s one with a lot of alumni, including The Matrix, Men in Black, and Push. With such examples present, I’m glad to say that Infinite manages to be unique among them and laser focuses on the things it does well.
Such skills you might notice are its pacing and its action scenes. The first is refreshing. These kinds of movies have existed for long enough that it’s easy for an audience to get the idea, and Infinite uses a single monologue to skip to the fun stuff. Some movies need the windup, but Infinite has other priorities—namely, awesome action scenes.
These Action Scenes Go For Maximum Spectacle
There are generally only two ways to treat an action scene that will be strong enough to be memorable. Both have seen a sort of renaissance lately. Either you go gritty (the first episode of Daredevil comes to mind), or you lean into the bombast. Because characters in Infinite don’t fear death like normal people, they’re willing to risk injury. The upshot of this is you can have people ramming cars through walls, throwing their bodies at planes mid-flight, and do things well beyond what a normal human would attempt. It’s always a good sign when I audibly, multiple times, went “that was so cool!” or laughed with disbelief at an action set-piece. You’d think that between Marvel and The Old Guard, there would be nowhere left to elevate the frantic, kinetic, and fluid dance that is hyper-fighting, but Infinite cares little for those rules.
Action Scenes In Infinite Are Like A Caffeine Rush
And this uniqueness does extend to the characters. Functionally immortal people would likely be almost alien. So, most characters have either a Zen-style calmness and matter-of-fact way of speaking or casualness that belies millennia of experience and sensation. Sometimes this can lead to awkward (if in-character) dialogue and exposition, but it moves so fast that we don’t have to worry much about it. Besides, it gives us an excuse for two fun and unique performances.
The first is Mark Wahlberg as Evan McCauley, who essentially plays three characters throughout the movie. He starts as a put-upon everyman with a deep sense of anger and fear of his mental state. This section doesn’t take up much of the movie, but it’s engaging while it lasts. The second is a man who’s sure he’s just hallucinating but has adopted an “I suppose this may as well happen” mindset through the bulk of the middle. This slower spot makes it even more fun when Mark unlocks his full potential with variation three. Echoing the exciting opening car chase, he becomes this cocksure but skilled warrior who seems to treat his body as much as a tool as a thing he’s inhabiting.
Despite Hiccups, There Are Solid Acting Choices
The second character is our villain, Bathurst. He’s played to a stunningly dark fever pitch by Chiwetel. Though perhaps too extreme to some, this is one of my favorite villains in a long time. There’s a detached, almost dreamlike way he seems to approach most scenes, only to have it fall apart into a deranged fury when required to hurt someone. This is the first villain I’ve seen—perhaps ever—where his wanting to fully destroy the world made logical sense. A lot of scenes showed a good understanding of the character and just made the underpinning writing a lot of fun.
Infinite itself is a lot of fun. The platonic ideal of a popcorn romp. It’s got a focus on its narrative trajectory that allows for a dance from stellar fight to absurd stunt. The involved choreography, the wild worldbuilding, and the easily digestible presentation give us a movie likely to leave a viewer with a paradoxical peaceful feeling and that lingering exhilaration of a high-octane thriller.
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