The recent trend towards indie sci-fi is a welcome one here at the ISCFC – we’ve directed viewers towards “Robot Revolution”, “Europa Report”, “Stranded” and “Last Days On Mars”, among others. Of course, some movies are more indie than others, and “Infini” looks like it’s had a pretty decent amount of money spent on it, thanks to new sci-fi production company Storm Vision Entertainment. Or I’m getting worse at telling when special effects are good or not – either option is possible.
Director Shane Abbess spent years on the lower rungs of the Australian movie industry before getting the chance to write and direct, and this is his first movie in both roles (he also produces too, so maybe he won the lottery? Anyway). We’re presented with the world of the 23rd century, where “slipstreaming” has become a thing. This is a way of transporting people and items instantaneously across the known universe, thanks to a metal doohickey implanted on the back of the neck.
Time dilation is a thing, so when mercenaries are sent to the remotest of all discovered planets, a small mining colony they’ve lost contact with, an hour on Earth is equal to a week there. It’s due to its closeness to black holes or something – I don’t think the science checks out, but it’s a cool idea and ratchets the tension up. Anyway, the first team of mercenaries come back after a few seconds either soaked in blood, dead, or with a weird infection of some sort, and this causes the entire West Coast base to be shut sown with “lethal quarantine”. The only guy who gets out is new recruit Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson, formerly of “Neighbours”), who does an emergency slipstream to Infini. He’s got a pregnant wife back in the slum, which leaves you wondering if this will be a reunite-the-family movie or a send-the-wife-back-a-final-message movie.
Two Earth hours later, the East Coast guys send a retrieval squad to Infini (including the other Hemsworth brother, Luke) and that’s when the movie kicks off. It becomes a sort of mashup of “The Thing” and “Solaris”, with a smidgeon of “Alien” in there too. The last miner went mad, for some as-yet-unknown reason, and was about to send a bomb back to Earth, so the mission is to defuse that and find out just what’s going on.
This is an interesting movie with a lot of strong ideas in it; the acting is pretty good; the special effects and sets all look like they had a lot of money spent on them; and the sort-of-twist is extremely well handled, I think. There’s not even an “evil government agenda” subplot, which is surprising indeed. Now, that’s the good stuff out of the way…It feels to me a little like a cake which was left in the oven five minutes too long – still pretty nice, but tough to get down. And let’s see if I can tell you why without ruining it!
One scene relies on a wall blocking radio communication between the marines and a miner. Now, bear in mind this is a society where information can be beamed literally anywhere in the universe instantaneously and a wall messes their plans up? The opening credits discuss how 97% of the world’s population live below the poverty line, but rather than burning the rich peoples’ homes down, they just take on more dangerous jobs in deep space. Boring! Plus, that same info-scroll tells us that slipstreaming carries the risk of “data corruption”, but this potentially interesting idea is, unless I’m really missing something, never used at any point.
While it wears its “influences” a little too proudly on its sleeve, the ending is excellent and quite clever, and even though I think Abbess is a stronger director than writer (some of the dialogue is terribly clunky, plus a horrible use of a team briefing as exposition) I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in the future.
Rating: thumbs in the middle