By Laurie Coker
It is probably minorly important to understand the source material for films like the new Mortal Kombat. I am not a gamer and really, except for pinball in my youth, appear to have no skill or propensity for video games. Regardless, I went in with an open mind. Mortal Kombat, directed by Simon McQuoid and written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham makes every effort to be a film of substance beyond the game theme. Unfortunately, while the visuals impress greatly, the tale fails to engage.
Mortal Kombat’s scenes vary between arrogant aliens uttering nonsense and flexing their super-human muscles and ominously lit sequences following the protagonist, Cole Young (Lewis Tan), a mixed martial artist and family man who learns he’s one of the champions slated to fight for Earth. He’s not alone though. He meets and joins forces with Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee), a woman without the mark of hero and Kano, (Josh Lawson), a brusque, burly Aussie fellow. An added conflict come from Kano and his psychopathic tendencies, persistently foul mouth, and refusal to take the whole initiative seriously. As often the case, the heroes have to learn to play nicely together. Eventually, the trio set out to save the world and destroy the darkness that threatens it, although Kano’s intentions fluctuate.
Tan and McNamee hold their own, but Lawson provides a great deal of spice and humor to the film, making the dull bits more tolerable and adding to the fire and ice raging on screen. The battle sequences are unnecessarily graphic and bloody and overly violent. The “creatures” and special effects are stunning and wildly vivid. Were it not for Lawson, I might have lost interest early on, because of my unfamiliarity with the game. The banter and interactions he provides make for some funny moments.
Fans of the game will likely enjoy the turn and the visuals as envisioned by McQuiod. Basically, the film showcases one violent, gory, and outlandish fight scene after another, and that carries the film – held more aloft by Lawson’s wry and likely unscripted trash talk and craziness. While this Mortal Kombat is leaps and bounds better than the previous incarnations, it is still just a glorified version of the video game. Because of the imagery and Lawson, Mortal Kombat, rightly rated R, earns a C+ in the grade book. Perhaps true fans will give it better.