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MOVIE REVIEW

To ‘Infinite’ (but not beyond): Mark Wahlberg’s new movie is on Paramount+

Mark Wahlberg appears puzzled, as well as very buff, in "Infinite."
Mark Wahlberg appears puzzled, as well as very buff, in "Infinite."Peter Mountain/Associated Press

If the 2004 marionette action parody “Team America: World Police” were remade with actual human beings and not a trace of irony, it could not be more entertainingly stupid than “Infinite,” the new Mark Wahlberg sci-fi thriller. Heading straight to streaming platform Paramount+ without the embarrassment of appearing in theaters first, the movie is both blissfully incoherent and weirdly generic, as if it had been assembled from the spare parts of other movies and glued together with stuntwork.

The story line is a sauce reduction of one of those “hero of destiny” plots, where an average schmo discovers to his shock that he’s The One, a.k.a. the savior of humanity. Here it’s Wahlberg as Evan McCauley, a combative New Yorker who learns early in the movie that he’s an Infinite, a rare breed of human who can in theory remember all his past lives (including one spell as a master swordsman in medieval Japan). There are good Infinites called Believers and bad Infinites called Nihilists, and Evan, who was known as Heinrich Treadway (Dylan O’Brien) in his last go-round, is the best Infinite, a freedom fighter who got hold of the Nihilists’ secret doomsday device and hid it somewhere before dying. Now all he has to do is remember where.

All of this is explained in Walhberg’s deadpan voice-over at the start and then explained a second time by Evan’s fellow Believers, who are led by hot warrior Nora (Sophie Cookson) and diminutive brain Garrick (Liz Carr) and who hide out in a high-tech Himalayan retreat called The Hub. The doomsday device is called The Egg, by the way, which leads to an inordinate number of characters shouting “Where is The Egg!” with terrible seriousness. The dialogue, by Ian Shorr and Todd Stein, adapting a novel by D. Eric Maikranz, is so inept that it appears at one point to quote an Edward D. Wood movie. (“All these people, all going somewhere!” from “Glen or Glenda.”)

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Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, and Mark Wahlberg in "Infinite."
Chiwetel Ejiofor, left, and Mark Wahlberg in "Infinite." Peter Mountain/Associated Press

“Infinite” hops from set-piece to set-piece, with director Antoine Fuqua — a long way from “Training Day” — pushing the action sequences well past the point of credibility and occasionally into hilarity. What brings the movie to the edge of camp, though, is the contrast between Wahlberg’s wooden line readings and the florid performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor as the chief villain, an epicene Infinite named Bathurst. The respected Oscar-nominated actor (“12 Years a Slave”) has read the script and realized there’s no way out but through the roof and as loudly as possible, so Bathurst bellows and preens and in one daft scene dons a pair of drone-controlling finger-gloves and waffles his hands around like he’s conducting Beethoven’s Fifth.

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He and Toby Jones as a high-level Believer (who at one point just says “blah blah blah” as if he, too, has read the script), and Jason Mantzoukis in the assigned eccentric-scientist role have the right idea: They’re there, they’ve been paid, so they might as well have fun. Someone should have passed the word to Wahlberg, who on the evidence of “Infinite” is in danger of running out of lives himself.

½

INFINITE

Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Written by Ian Shorr and Todd Stein, based on a novel by D. Eric Maikranz. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sophie Cookson. Available on Paramount+. 106 minutes. PG-13 (sequences of strong violence, some bloody images, strong language, brief drug use)

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Ty Burr can be reached at ty.burr@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @tyburr.