Most time travel movies get bogged down trying to over-explain themselves, but Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes sidesteps that issue by making its setup so intensely complicated it’s stupid even attempting to wrap your head around it. The press notes describe the film as “One Cut of the Dead meets Tenet” but considering how anti-fun that pretentious Christopher Nolan snooze-fest is, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes shouldn’t even appear in the same sentence. There are touches of One Cut to director Junta Yamaguchi’s feature debut, but it’s also infused with Edgar Wright’s madcap enthusiasm – evidently, everybody involved was really thrilled to be making a movie period.
The premise, to boil it down to its essential essence, surrounds café manager Kato (Kazunori Tosa, also making his feature debut) who, after returning home from work one night, realizes the PC monitor in his room is looped with a TV downstairs in the café, creating a “TV that transcends time,” as it were. There’s a two-minute delay that allows Kato and, by extension, his friends, to see two minutes into the future. At first, it sparks delight and hilarity. Almost immediately, the group uses the trick for low-level nefarious means and gets into trouble as a result, after getting confused by the overlaps and trying to obey what’s going to happen, or already has – it’s not worth thinking too hard about the “wormhole disturbance.” Suffice to say, as Kato quips, “apparently I’m in the future.”
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is extremely deadpan and dry, making the entire thing much easier to swallow. Shot on an iPhone, the fluid, urgent camera movements give the impression of a oner but, judging by the fascinating behind the scenes footage that plays over the closing credits, each scene was set up very specifically. Sharing a similar energy and humour to One Cut, the film is endlessly inventive, entertaining, and funny with just a couple locations used and a non-invasive score only piping in at key moments, rather than forcing us to feel something artificial. The camera weaves in and out of spaces big and small alike, making us feel as though we’re running alongside Kato and his excitable friends.
The small cast is incredible likeable, each personality distinct without taking too much attention away from Kato’s central struggle. Tosa is a compelling screen presence, schlubby but never pathetic, and his budding romance with a neighboring barber’s daughter is sweetly sketched. The premise is immediately too complex to fully understand, likely on purpose, since screenwriter Makoto Ueda understands the best time travel movies don’t bog themselves down with boring non-science (again, see Tenet, or rather don’t). The idea of being able to see two minutes into the future is simultaneously silly and captivating but keeping the characters’ reaction to their newfound power within the realms of possibility roots the film in the present, rather than flying off into space (a visit from a couple time travelers is exceedingly well-judged, however).
At its core, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a sweet, empathetic rumination on living in the moment, or at least trying to, regardless of whether your life feels too small to celebrate. An invigoratingly modern sci-fi story that’s inventively captured, smartly scripted, and confidently performed, this is one time travel movie with its feet planted firmly in the here and now. An absolute joy.
WICKED RATING: 8/10