Based on D. Eric Maikranzâs 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers, Infinite is not exactly a good movie, which is perhaps why Paramount opted to pull the movie from theaters and release it streaming-only instead. At least the premise is intriguing: Wahlberg’s character, Evan McCauley, realizes his lifelong hallucinations are actually memories from all of the past lives. Director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Ian Shorr adopt a self-serious tone for this concept, and despite Wahlberg’s half-hearted stabs at quippy dialogue, almost no one in this movie seems to be having a good time.
Except, of course, for Jason Mantzoukas.
Best known for his whacky character roles in comediesâlike Derek on The Good Place, Dennis Feinstein on Parks and Recreation, and Adrian Pimento in Brooklyn Nine-NineâMantzoukas has actually done a few roles in action-thrillers, including John Wick 3. But he truly goes all-out manic Mantzoukas in Infiniteâa colorful, possibly non-binary weirdoâwhile surrounded by stone-faced actors taking their jobs very seriously. It’s an absolute riot.
Mantzoukas plays a character named Artisan, an eccentric neurologist/doctor/mad scientist who is supposed to help Evan (Wahlberg) recover the memories of his past lives. His entrance comes a full hour into the movie. His hair is a good five inches tall. He’s wearing a black leather apron over a gold leather vest over a purple velvet shirt. (You can’t make this up!) And even though most of his dialogue is exposition needed to explain what the heck is going on with all of this memory stuff, Mantzoukas is sure to deliver in a way that suggests he’s just done some hardcore party drugs.
And then there’s the casual line of dialogue that suggests Artisan does not adhere to the gender binary.
“Am I supposed to trust this guy?” Wahlberg asks incredulously.
“First,” Mantzoukas replies, “I resent the gender labeling.”
I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but somehow a Mark Wahlberg thriller with a 21 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes has better representation for non-binary people than most Hollywood movies.
But wait, there’s more. Later in the film, after Wahlberg’s character suffers an injury, he wakes up in a make-shift hospital room to Mantzoukas peacefully playing electric guitar.
“You’re in my saaaafe house,” Mantzoukas says with a delirious grin. “I’m doing your mooooorphine!”
It’s unclear what movie Mantzoukas thinks he’s in, but I for one am thrilled he’s having a good time. It’s as if someone put Deadpool in a Zack Snyder-directed Superman flickâan unhinged, manic goofball running around in an otherwise serious movie with a grey, depressing color palette. And honestly? Deadpool would make those Superman movies much more enjoyable. Shout out to Mantzoukas for playing the best character in Infinite. Now, where’s that Artisan spin-off?
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