Like many science-fiction movies, Infini requires some suspension of disbelief. It’s how much you’re willing to put up with that will make this either a great Sci-Fi thriller, or a loosely plotted remix of classic sci-fi movies including Solaris, The Thing, Alien and Aliens, with a light dusting of Star Trek thrown in for good measure.
While it’s obvious to old Sci-Fi fans that writer/director Shane Abbess has
plundered taken inspiration from the aforementioned stories, he and co-writer Brian Cachia have actually managed to weave a tale which plays a reasonable homage to all of them. Infini remixes the details in such a way as to create a movie which has the requisite thrills and chills while remaining a tale of its own.
A central theme of the movie concerns memory and the effects of the transportation of humans via a faster than light system. Slipstreaming is explained as a conversion of the human body into data which is then fired a bazillion light years and somehow reassembles said humans within a matter of moments. This data can be affected over large distances and people’s memories (and undoubtedly their physical form) may be corrupted. Think of the Star Trek transporter but over super long distances, like occurred in the first of the J.J. Abrams movies.
Speaking of which, lens flare is a big feature of many key scenes, and can either be interpreted as astonishingly distracting, or a metaphor for the confusion the characters are feeling after their experiences. However, it should also be noted that the requisite teal and orange colour scheme makes the movie look modern, slick and Hollywood-like, and the team of Peter ‘Babylon’ Owens (art direction) and Kitty Taube (set decoration) create a claustrophobic environment reminiscent of the depths of the Nostromo.
It’s a surprise therefore that this was shot in Australia, after Shane Abbess decided to forego a long Hollywood lead-time and get to make a movie again after several years in development hell with various different projects.
The remote planetoid of the movie’s title houses an abandoned colony, set-up to mine a super-combustible frozen material. The site has unexpectedly become active again and a team of soldiers sent to find out what was going on come back psychotic and wipe out a military base, but not before two off-duty soldiers manage to Slipstream out. Why they would choose to head to the colony rather than a beach in a non extradition country isn’t adequately explored, but it does set-up the circumstances for a rescue mission.
Team two is a Search and Rescue group of two women (Grace Huang as Claire Grenich and Louisa Mignone as Philipa Boxen) backed up by five burly lads (Luke Hemsworth as Charlie Kent, Bren Foster as Luke Jacklar, Luke Ford as Chester Huntington Harry Pavlidis as Harris Menzies and Dwaine Stevenson as Rex Mannings), with Kevin Copeland as Seet Johansen, the boss. They’re briefed by a very stressed Matt Minto, as the Chief (not a Get Smart homage, though that might have been amusing); a fast-talker with a bluetooth headset welded to his ear, receiving intel from a number of conflicting sources.
Their mission, should they choose to accept it (they do, because to refuse would cut short a rather promising premise) is to travel to the planetoid, stop some of the material being sent back and rescue the two men. They find one alive (Daniel MacPherson as Whit Carmichael), and one frozen stiff (Paul Winchester as David Ponter). Team two work together well and the actors playing the characters make the most of their fairly nondescript roles. Yet, because these characters are drawn without explanation of their skill-sets, their actions and reactions are not up for debate. As a result, Infini avoids the pitfalls created in movies such as Prometheus where skilled people made astonishingly poor decisions to push the story along.x
Infini is not without some of its own issues though. Co-writers Brian Cachia and Shane Abbess open with a bunch of people being subjected to an over-elaborate Q&A, jump-cutting between characters, questions and lens flares. We eventually find this is team two who have arrived back home after their mission. While this creates immediate tension it does leave one wondering what just happened. This is not an isolated incident of narrative instability and while these moments are undoubtedly an attempt to put one in the shoes of the protagonists, they pull the viewer from the action in an instinctive search for the remote to rewind to watch again and perhaps find some meaningful detail.
Ultimately though the story delivers a European take on Science Fiction. This is no Ultimate Enemy from Space Attacking Humanity, a retelling of World War II. And in cherry-picking aspects of classic Sci-Fi, and creating something new from old, the writers have aimed very high indeed.
Whether they hit the target is for you to say.
Infini is available in digital HD from 8 May.