Review by Sean Boelman
A take on Bonnie and Clyde for the social media generation, Joshua Caldwell’s Infamous is about as annoying as one would expect from a derivative film with two barely charismatic stars. Even though it may be entirely well-intentioned, Caldwell’s movie pales in comparison to other recent modernizations of this myth.
The film follows two star-crossed lovers who long to escape their meager small-town living by setting out on a series of robberies and streaming them to social media, leading them to gain a devoted cult following. The movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and one character even repeatedly points out the numerous fallacies in the film’s logic.
A big part of what keeps the movie from working is that the character development is extremely subpar. Bonnie and Clyde doesn’t work by glorifying the criminality of the characters — it is compelling because of the relationship they shared, and that element was, for the most part, a significant nonstarter here.
The acting also didn’t do the film many favors. Bella Thorne has shown in the past that she can be somewhat charming if she’s given material with a comedic tinge to it. Unfortunately, she’s playing it too straight here, coming across as little more than another ex-Disney star trying to be edgy. Her co-star Jake Manley doesn’t fare much better either.
Another issue with the movie is that it feels long and repetitive. Even though the film is only an hour and forty minutes, the numerous robberies (with little differentiation in the way in which they are set up) fail to excite the audience after a certain point. Viewers will soon be desensitized to the stakes.
There are some interesting ideas on the surface about the negative influence that social media has on younger generations, but despite being integrally tied to the movie’s premise, it still manages to feel like an afterthought. Instead, the film feels like a shallow attack on the attention-hungry nature of youth in America.
Caldwell’s movie also could have benefitted from some more consistency in terms of style and technique. There are some interesting sequences shot from the perspective of the social media videos, but they aren’t used often enough to have much impact. Other gimmicks, such as on-screen text, feel like desperate attempts to give the film an energy of any sort.
Infamous is an unpleasant and honestly quite boring take on a story that has been committed to the screen many times before. If audiences are looking for a modernization of Bonnie and Clyde, it’s worth checking out last year’s much better (and insanely timely) Queen & Slim instead.
Infamous hits VOD on June 12.