It’s been 26 years since the last Mortal Kombat film, and somehow Simon McQuoid’s 2021 version feels like more of the same. While the film’s effects are top-notch, a lot of its substance falls short. The film’s plot seems rushed and half-explained. Finally, the action, which should be a strength, mostly underwhelms. While the film was not terrible, it leaves a lot on the table.
Let’s start with a positive. Mortal Kombat features excellent special effects. It’s obvious the film had a big-studio budget. Landscapes, superhuman powers, and digital characters all appear life-like. Some of the most impressive special effects involve one of the film’s main antagonists, Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). The character’s frozen powers look hyper-realistic. You can imagine the chill and pain of the sharp frozen icicles he uses to defeat his opponents.
An Incomplete Plot
Mortal Kombat contains some intriguing storylines. Perhaps the most interesting and critical plot elements deal with Scorpian (Hiroyuki Sanada). The film introduces the character briefly and then shifts focus. They establish what appears to be some rich back history with Scorpian but never explore it. Instead, they bookend the film with his story. As a result, some of the best sequences in the film occur at the beginning and end. That backstory seems like a tease to get to the film’s main meat, which also seems rushed. We instead get a non-tournament that doesn’t take off.
More Action Wanted
The most disappointing thing about Mortal Kombat is its underwhelming action sequences. The film, set for massive action and spectacle, just never delivers. Itshould easily fit in with the current overflow of giant superhero films, but it falls short. Once the characters find their inner power or “arcana,” the payoff feels weak and overhyped. The heroes seem like minor leaguers on a World Series stage. Everyone seems like good fighters with minor powers pitted against god-like beings.
Bottom Line: Mortal Kombat is not a terrible film, but after 26 years of hoping for a decent reboot, we are left wanting.