I wouldn’t blame you if you were down on Mark Wahlberg right now. Three of his last five films are downright bad. But here’s the thing… three of his last seven films were in my Top 15 of their respective years. He’s very hit-and-miss in my book, and yet, as a well-known Boston homer, I must admit that Mark Wahlberg is kind of The Man. First of all, Mark Wahlberg is not only an Oscar-nominated actor, but he’s also an Oscar-nominated producer as well. That’s some Leonardo DiCaprio–Brad Pitt shit right there. And leaving those films — The Departed and The Fighter — aside, you’re left with the stone-cold classic Boogie Nights; the rock-solid movies Three Kings and Ted; Fear, which is a personal favorite of mine; and his excellent True Story Trilogy, which includes Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day.
That’s a wicked good resume if you ask me, so to be completely honest, as hot as Chris Evans is right now coming off of Avengers: Endgame, I think Wahlberg remains a step up the ladder. Blasphemy to all you Marvel fans, I know. The reason this comparison is even being made in the first place today is that Wahlberg is currently in negotiations to replace fellow Massachusetts man Evans in Antoine Fuqua‘s action-thriller Infinite, which is in the works over at Paramount.
Apparently, scheduling issues with his upcoming Apple TV series Defending Jacob are to blame for Evans’ exit. That show is currently in production, as I understand it, and it must be a lengthy shoot, as Infinite is expected to start production in September. Defending Jacob is an important project for Evans now that he has turned over Captain America’s shield to Anthony Mackie and bowed out gracefully from the MCU. It could be the kind of series that takes his career as a serious actor to the next level, or… it could be a neutral move, which seems to have been the case with Chris Pine‘s TNT series I Am the Night. I bet it’ll turn out a bit better than that though, which is why I suspect that Evans ultimately dodged a bullet with Infinite. Allow me to explain.
While I love Mark Wahlberg, I said earlier that his projects are very hit-and-miss. I’d love to be proved wrong, but Infinite sounds like a miss. Based on D. Eric Maikranz’s 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers, the story follows a group of near-immortal men and women who are reincarnated over the centuries and known as “the Infinite.” To defeat an evil mastermind, the group must rely on a schizophrenic man (Wahlberg) whose vivid dreams are actually memories from past lives.
I don’t know… I like Fuqua and screenwriter Ian Shorr, but I’d be lying if I said that premise got me excited. In fact, it sounds a little bit like Marvel’s The Eternals, which is also about near-immortal beings, but instead of having a cosmic backdrop, Infinite sounds like it will be a little Inception-y. I suppose it’s admirable of Paramount and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to make a big-budget movie based on a relatively unknown IP, but it’s also fair to suggest that this could wind up being an expensive flop. I suppose every movie has 50-50 odds of success, but Wahlberg-Fuqua should be a slam dunk pairing in my eyes, and yet this premise gives me doubts.
That said, Wahlberg is best when he’s allowed to indulge his crazy side — I Heart Huckabees, Boogie Nights, Fear — so his casting as a schizophrenic hero could pay dividends, and again, as I said before, I like him in this role more than Evans. I’ll just be curious to see what the budget is on Infinite, as Paramount isn’t shy about pulling the plug (see the World War Z sequel).
Wahlberg is obviously closely aligned with Paramount, having starred in two Transformers sequels as well as the Daddy’s Home franchise. Instant Family and The Gambler were also Paramount movies, and Wahlberg’s nephew, Jeffrey Wahlberg, co-stars in the studio’s upcoming Dora the Explorer movie. The elder Wahlberg recently wrapped Peter Berg‘s Netflix movie Wonderland and the indie drama Good Joe Bell. He’s is represented by WME and Leverage Management.
Mark Vahradian and John Zaozirny are also producing Infinite, which Paramount is slated to release on Aug. 7, 2020.