Review by Sean Boelman
Naomi Watts has somehow gotten typecast as the go-to actress for movies about a woman triumphing over odds that are extraordinarily stacked against her, and at this point, it’s even starting to get a bit old. Her latest entry into that canon, Infinite Storm, is an attempt to humanize the survival film genre, an odd decision given that the genre is already tied to basic human empathy.
The movie follows a climber who gets stuck in a blizzard, discovering a stranded stranger and embarking on a race against the clock to get themselves off the mountain before nightfall. It’s another based-on-a-true-story survival thriller that is made with the intention of inspiring the audience about the strength of the human will.
Yet the daring mountain escape that these climbers are embarking on is not all that exciting to watch. Although the stakes here are literally life-and-death, the film does not do a good job of convincing the audience of that. It’s not as cinematic as the filmmakers seem to think it is to watch two people struggling to trudge through the snow and falling down every once in a while.
Then, in the last thirty minutes, the movie turns into something very different. It’s arguably more interesting, because it has some fascinating questions to ask about guilt and PTSD. Had this been the entire film, it could have been quite compelling, but given that it’s only about a third of the runtime, it’s not able to go into much depth.
The character development in the movie is also lacking. It’s a hard line to tread, because to be believable, there can’t be much dialogue, but the lack of dialogue also forces the film to develop its characters in a different way. Yet it’s as if writer Joshua Rollins didn’t even bother writing the characters, haphazardly throwing together a bunch of cliches.
Watts cranks out pretty much the exact same performance that she has given in her last dozen movies, and while it’s not a bad turn, it feels phoned in. The only other actor with a substantial role in the film is Billy Howle, although he isn’t given much to do but sit there. For better or worse, it’s Watts’s show, but not even the Oscar-nominated actress could save this.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the movie is that it doesn’t even look that good. For films like this, the execution should at least be interesting, but the settings here look overwhelmingly generic. And the movie frequently goes all-in on the blizzard element, meaning it is just hard to see a lot of things, and it’s distracting.
Infinite Storm isn’t unwatchable, but it’s so generic that it probably isn’t worth your time. It’s another in the recent line of mediocre Naomi Watts starring vehicles, just one that is capitalizing on the revitalization of cinema to get increased play.
Infinite Storm hits theaters on March 25.