Video game movies have come a long way in the past few decades, still a lot of them are either hits (the Resident Evil franchise) or misses (Assassin’s Creed). The Mortal Kombat 2021 reboot falls somewhere in the middle, giving a more faithful adaptation of the hit video game from the 90s than any previous iteration, but going very easy on plot and character development. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Audiences unfamiliar with the video game will undoubtedly be a little lost throughout most of the movie, so it’s good that Mortal Kombat has some pretty great special effects and decent fight scenes. All of the characters are fighters in their own right and are briefly introduced then quickly thrown into the bloody battle to the death with the demonic warriors of Outworld. The history of the centuries-old feud is glossed over, assuming the viewer is already familiar with the source material. Characters and their individual abilities are put to the test throughout the entire film, so essentially the whole movie is a Mortal Kombat event.
The pace of the film barely slows down in order for us to get to know our heroes; Cole Young (Lewis Tan), Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), and Jax (Mehcad Brooks). We get brief glimpses of their lives prior to the battle sequences, more so for Tan’s Cole than anyone else. Sonya and Jax were apparently partners and served in the military together, but the two barely spend any screen time together. Liu Kang (Ludi Lin), the main character in the 1995 Mortal Kombat, has been reduced to little more than a supporting character this time around.
The villains, much like the heroes, are depicted as little more than one-dimensional, dedicated to the destruction of Earth by way of decimating it’s champions. I will say props to the CGI department this time around, as the four-armed Goro seems to take on a life of his own, giving us one of the better, if gorier, fight scenes during the final showdown.
The film did fairly well at the box office, considering what box office stats are these days, and is currently available on HBO Max for approximately 30 days. This makes a sequel almost a certainty, with rumors popping up about just who will play Johnny Cage, which is teased at the end of the movie.
Bottom line: If you’re not too hung up on character development or plot, Mortal Kombat is an enjoyable, yet violent, action movie.