Infini (2015): The Thing Meets the Data Stream

Whit Carmichael aka Daniel MacPherson
Directed and co-written by Shane Abbess (written with Brian Cachia) and starring Daniel MacPhersonLuke HemsworthLuke Ford and Bren Foster (who has been garnering a lot of attention as SCPO Wolf Taylor on the US TNT drama The Last Ship) Infini is an Australian treat posing as an odd sort of horror/science fiction/thriller. Set in a future where the vast majority of the world is poor and forced to take dangerous high paying jobs to survive, the film follows an elite search and rescue team on a special mission.

The film opens by informing the audience that methods of space travel have advanced to such a degree that people travel as “data” via the Slipstream. Volunteers, aka poor people in those dangerous jobs, have devices (an APEX) attached to their central nervous system that allows them to use this mode of travel. We are also told that corruption of data is commonplace, as are deaths caused by this controversial method of space travel.

Infini starts with a group of people being questioned under bright lights and behind glass walls. The tone is frantic, loud, aggressive and panicky, the importance of this opening sequence will become relevant, and clearer, at the end of the film. The next thing on screen is Whit Carmichael and his pregnant wife. This is Carmichael’s first day in his new job. His wife is concerned and worried about this new high paying but dangerous position.

Before his first mission, things go catastrophically wrong. A group of soldiers go on a mission and return, their numbers are decimated and the survivor’s are bloody, in shock, and very volatile. The station is put on lockdown and put under lethal quarantine. Whit is slipstreamed to the place the soldiers came from and a new team are sent to retrieve him.

There are a lot of things going on here. Time is very relevant. The rules of the film are that the person using the data travel system is gone for seconds on the station, while on the actual mission their time at the destination equals hours. This factor becomes important as the film progresses.

Infini seems to combine John Carpenter’s The Thing (or Howard Hawk’s version The Thing from Another World, sans James Arness dressed as a giant carrot.) although Carpenter’s setting; the frozen arctic, does seem to be mimicked here. The planet the “perfect” organism calls home is a deep freeze where the natural habitat is icy and uninhabitable.

Abbess and Cachia have come up with a scenario that delivers some pretty decent horror and science fiction thrills that also requires the viewer to think. By the end of the film one does not know if the whole thing was a result of corrupted data, a perfect parasitic organism, space madness or something else entirely.

Performances by all the actors were spot on. Rather interestingly, most of the cast appear to be refugees from the Aussie soap <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094481/?ref_=nv_sr_1&quot; target="_blank"Home and Away. The film clips along at a good pace and while there are moments that jar, mainly because of the plot and the storyline rather than bad editing or holes, these incidents help to keep the unease and uncertainty on line.

If there is any complaint at all about the film it would be the rather wordy and philosophic speech given by the main protagonist toward the very end of the film. It does not really fit the scenario, although, that could be matter of misinterpretation, if one considers the data corruption plot thread.

When the film ends, the viewer will be uncertain as to just what happened to the crew who went to rescue Carmichael and Whit himself. This ambiguous end is the frosting on this outer and inner space trippy vision and makes the film work on many different levels. It is precisely the reason that I adore Australian cinema, as the filmmakers down under specialize in thinking so far outside the box that it may as well not exist.

Infini will not be to everyone’s taste. For those who like a film that makes them think and ponder about what they’ve just seen, this is a 4 out of 5 star bit of brilliance. Streaming on US Netflix right now horror and science fiction fans should pop some corn and prepare to be entertained and perhaps just a bit confused.

‘Kill Me Three Times’ Simon Pegg Black Comedy on Demand

Simon Pegg as Charlie Wolfe Directed by Kriv Stenders (“Red Dog”, “Boxing Day”) and written by James McFarland (in what appears to be his maiden effort as screenwriter) this black comedy and film noir spoof, with its limited theatrical and video on demand release is quite amusing and gives Simon Pegg fans a chance to see him with a Poncho Villa mustache and dark hair. Starring Pegg, Alice Braga (“Predators,” “I am Legend”), Luke Hemsworth, brother of Chris aka Thor, Callan Mulvey, Sullivan Stapleton, Bryan Brown (“FX,” “Cocktail”) and, an apparently pregnant, Teresa Palmer, the movie moves at a frantic clip and does try a little too hard to entertain.

That said, it is still entertaining, with Alice Braga playing against type as victim and Pegg playing what must be the world’s most incompetent assassin. The story begins with what must be the worst voice over Pegg has ever done. It is not the “Shaun of the Dead” star’s fault, however, it is McFarland’s dialogue. Stiff and clumsy, the opening words of the dying “hit man” are an instant turn off.

If one sticks with the film and ignores the awkward beginning, the movie does pay off. The plot has Braga as Alice Taylor, wife of hotelier Jack (Mulvey). Her hubby is an extremely jealous type and a bit too ready with his fists. Somewhat understandably, Alice has run to the arms of petrol station owner Hemsworth who plays hunky Dylan Smith. Smith may be what Mrs. Taylor prefers, but in the overall scheme of things, he is a muscle bound chap with a diminished brainpan.

The interweaved plot thread has 250,000 Australian dollars going from one person to another. A dentist with a terrible gambling problem, whose wife Lucy (Palmer) sets up her brother Jack’s wife in an insurance scam. Pegg is the other interwoven piece of this plot line and his hired assassin is either too drunk to operate his weapons properly or is the worst shot in the history of killers for hire.

The musical score is reminiscent of Robert Rodriguez’s grindhouse offering “Planet Terror” a kind of 70s noir with twanging guitars and synthesizers. Although there is a sort of Tarantino feel in some places, it is Planet Terror that this film’s soundtrack takes it cues from.

Pegg’s character seems to have been written by McFarland as a sort of homage to many of his prior roles. There is even a direct nod and wink to Sgt. Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” “look at his arse.” Charlie Wolfe (Pegg) is a construct of Simon’s other roles, from “Spaced” to “The World’s End.”

This is a problem, along with the stilted dialogue and the accent Wolfe spouts. Since the character is driving an American car, it seems that he may be a “yank,” or at the very least a tourist, but there are those dead give-a-way British pronunciations that mess things up.

Bryan Brown makes an impressive local baddie and although it’s been a long time since “FX” and “Cocktail” the Australian actor still has those impressive acting chops. Teresa Palmer looks enough like Elizabeth Montgomery that if a biopic were ever done, she would fit the lead like a glove.

Speaking of Palmer, she looks to be impressively pregnant and despite Stenders’ best attempts, it is very noticeable. The actress has come a long way since her debut in the J Horror sequel “Grudge 2.”

All the characters in the film almost appear to be stereotypes of Australian types. While this does not detract from the movie itself, it would be interesting to see what the country thought of this decision. Colloquial opinions aside, these “types” work very well for the movie’s plot.

The film feels a little like a noir-ish updating of the 1963 film “Comedy of Terrors” with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff. Both films feature a character that deals in death and both feature another character that refuses to die.

The cinematography is crisp and clear and the scenery is spectacular. Being a hopeless fan of Australian cinema, I liked the film. Pegg’s character is not a nice chap, and despite the inept nature of his hit man and his genuine delight at the turn of events, he still comes over as likeable.

Releasing the film with a limited theatrical run, coinciding with a video on demand option seems to have been a wise move. The film is, perhaps, a bit too eclectic for the main stream and while Simon Pegg fans may like the movie, it may have a hard time finding an audience.

Still worth a look, or two, and overall the blackly comic noir spoof is enjoyable and despite some plot holes here and there, worth the time spent watching it. A solid 3 out of 5 stars.

22 April 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Chris Hemsworth His Brothers in Arms and Arts

Chris Hemsworth His Brothers in Arms and Arts

Chris Hemsworth has said that he and his brothers are very competitive. He admits that he likes to win, especially over brother Liam and that Luke, the eldest, is the one who ensures balance and controls the tension. All three siblings are in the entertainment business as actors so their familial battles to win make them brothers in arms and the arts.