By the 23rd century humanity will have expanded it’s reach into deep space via “Slipstreaming” a method of turning matter into a data signal and beaming it to a fixed coordinate. This is, needless to say, very risky not only due to the chance of materializing in the middle of an ocean but the chance of “data corruption” during the journey. But since 95% of the world’s population lives in poverty there is no shortage of applicants for the jobs involving it.
We are told this via white letters on a stark black background then almost immediately dropped into a loud and confusing interrogation/debriefing which throws the viewer completely off guard before going on to start the story properly.
This story involves Whit Carmicheal who is about to become a father and takes a job with a space faring search and rescue team to provide for his future offspring. Things go horribly wrong on his first day on the job when another team comes back transformed into unthinking and unstoppable killing machines. In a desperate bid to save his life he ends up making a solo trip to Infini, the most distant manned planet and the site of the worst disaster in the history of space travel. Another team is sent to retrieve him and neutralize the threat to Earth coming from Infini. And the source of that threat is something they can’t imagine.
Infini is the second film from director Shane Abbess whose 2007 debut Gabriel was a stunning low budget effort concerning the titular angel and his journey to Purgatory to save the souls of those trapped there. With great action sequences and a detailed world it looked to be the start of a promising career. Instead he spent the next 7 years stuck in a purgatory of his own, production limbo, being attached to various films such as Source Code but never getting to actually direct them, until now.
Shot in his native Australia on a budget rumored to be only five million Australian dollars Infini, like Gabriel, is incredible to look at. So much so that it’s a shame most people will see it via DVD/Blu Ray or VOD as it would look incredible on the big screen. From the exteriors of the planet to the frozen, (and then flooded once heat is restored), interior of the mining outpost this looks like a major studio film.
Sadly the rest of the film fails to live up to it’s look. The script is heavily influenced by other films such as Event Horizon, Aliens, and, both in the scenes of the frozen, corpse strewn outpost and to a degree the eventual reveal of what lurks on the planet, Carpenter’s The Thing. Unfortunately Abbess’ script fails to make the various characters stand out as individuals, they are for the most part interchangeable, there to deliver lines that any of them could say with the same impact. This isn’t the fault of the cast, most of whom are veterans of Australian TV, although Grace Huang, who plays Claire, may be familiar from the Man With the Iron Fists films. The only two who really stand out are Daniel MacPherson as Whit who benefits from not being one of the team as well as being the best actor in the cast and Luke Hemsworth as the psychotic Charlie. He looks enough like his younger brother Chris that I kept expecting him to find a hammer to use during one of his fight scenes. Said fight scenes are well choreographed and exciting and the moments of blood and gore while not frequent are grisly and effective.
The film does start to rise above average in the last third, once they make contact with the alien life form responsible for everything that has gone on before. The film starts becoming about what it means to be human and the nature of humankind. It plays with both the alien’s perception of the humans it has encountered and their perceptions of themselves as the aliens take over their bodies and try to become in effect more human than human. If the film had introduced this theme sooner it could have added a much more thoughtful edge to the goings on and helped it stand further apart from others in the genre. As it is it’s an above average effort but not what it could and should have been given the talent involved.
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Infini is available to view on multiple VOD platforms, I saw it here