I’m not saying that we need to stop giving Mark Wahlberg work, I’m just saying that at least Nicolas Cage would have made this movie interesting. It might still have been awful, but at least he would have gone all out about being a man with a ton of skills and abilities that he can’t explain and a history of mental illness. Instead, Wahlberg’s performance is extremely muted, coming off as almost bored when dealing with the fantastic reality he’s slowly becoming aware of. While I’m not a big Mark Wahlberg fan (admittedly, opinion possibly tainted by all of his hate crimes), he has put in some solid performances in dramatic, comedy, and even action films. Here, it seems extremely obvious that he just wanted to pick up a paycheck, unless the director, Antoine Fuqua, was constantly giving him the note “less.” While I wouldn’t expect that from the director of Training Day, I WOULD expect it from the director of King Arthur, so it’s not impossible that the director bears responsibility here.
The premise of the movie is at least interesting, even if I’m pretty confident multiple other series and films have done something similar. Evan McCauley (Wahlberg) is a schizophrenic with a traumatic brain injury (and metal plate) who seemingly knows almost any trivia and is capable of doing things like gourmet cooking and crafting katanas without any training. Eventually, he finds out that, surprise, he’s one of the Infinites. It turns out the world is populated by roughly 500 individuals who are capable of remembering all of their past lives. They maintain a near-perfect recall of any skills or information they previously acquired. Naturally, they have had a schism that has divided the Infinites. One group, the Believers (yes, really), are led by Nora (Sophie Cookson), one half of a pair of lovers waiting to be reincarnated together, and Garrick (Liz Carr), who is gifted with actual personality. The other group, the Nihilists (yes, really), are led by Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and they are determined to destroy all life on Earth so that there can be no more reincarnation. Get it? Nihilists? They want to make everything into nothing? SO CLEVER.
The problem is that the film often devolves into long, emotionless expository monologues. Sophie Cookson’s character of Nora is so boring and so bland that any and all action sequences are rendered uninteresting by association. Not that the action sequences in the movie are anything to write home about. Despite having a number of hyper-skilled warriors armed with a combination of modern and ancient weaponry, you know, the thing that made The Old Guard (also starring Chiwetel Ejiofor) one of the best action movies of the last two years, this movie feels like it’s constantly stealing from other, better films. And it uses CG way more than it needed to, when you consider that it clearly had a massive budget (that they’ve suspiciously refused to disclose). Even more, rather than an actual fight, the whole film ends up being a MacGuffin hunt, which becomes increasingly stupid the more you think about how it plays out.
Overall, this movie sucked. It’s not even fun bad, like the Happening, it’s just bad, like Transformers: The Last Knight.
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