Review – Mortal Kombat (2021)

Before you watch this film you need to figure out what you’re looking to take away from it. Do you like the video games? Do you like mindless violence? Do you like seeing people’s spines?

Once you answer this short questionnaire hopefully you’ll adjust your expectations accordingly. Mortal Kombat is a silly film that’s trying it’s hardest to be silly. It wants to be fun and it definitely succeeds at that.

I felt the movie just holds together structurally. It moves really fast and each scene delivers just enough to get the point across and then it moves on. Time is reserved for fighting which, for the most part, is coherent. John Wick has spoilt us in terms of fight geography and choreography in Western Cinema. You’re just aware enough of where everyone is in Mortal Kombat for it to be just less than confusing.

For the first half of the movie Josh Lawson absolutely steals the film. He’s an absolute crowd-pleasing shit talker. Everyone in the cinema was in hysterics. It really helped to balance the outlandish concept of Mortal Kombat. It’s a performance that weirdly grounds the film and Lawson deserves full credit for his this.

The film, in terms of stake and my investment, was somewhat lacking for me. The only reason I knew I was in the third act was because I checked my watch. It didn’t go ‘big’ it just stayed the same. I was a bit disappointed by that. Some elements were in place that it could have used to go ‘big’ but I suspect that the budget was a factor.

It’s abundantly clear that this is meant to be the beginning of a franchise. The film almost felt like a prequel. Probably a better word is prelude. We basically saw the formation of a superhero team and established a big bad enemy. The movie’s a slightly low-risk toe-dip to see if this property can yield profits. Given it’s a day/date release I feel like a sequel is a big chance. If anything the film is lucky it’ll get so many eyes on it and is better for this release model.

My biggest gripe with the film is actually the Australian Ratings Board. Mortal Kombat was given an R18+ and it absolutely does not deserve that rating. I went in with really high expectations and the film doesn’t live up to them. It was fairly tame, though maybe I’m desensitised being a kid who grew up playing the video games. I saw that in the US the film is an R which is an Australian MA15+ and that feels right. It wasn’t the gore-filled insanity that the Ratings Board had me believe.

All in all Mortal Kombat is just a fun, over the top, bloody movie. And that’s good enough for me: ★★★