Run Time: 104 minutes
What to Expect: A sleepy sci-fi adventure about a troubled young man learning to control his God-like powers.
André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Trollhunter) directs the slow-paced science fiction adventure, Mortal. It concerns a young Norwegian-American, Eric Bergland (Nat Wolff), who has abilities similar to the Norse God, Thor. Despite excellent location shots of the Norwegian fjords and some top-notch visual effects, Mortal is a boring film. It only gets edgy and intriguing toward the very end.
Bearded backpacker Eric Bergland lives in a tent deep in the woods in rural Norway. Disturbed by strange dreams and injured, he hobbles to the nearest village for medical supplies and bandages. After stealing these items, he runs into some teen bullies. Wanting to test him, they push him to the ground. When one of the teens touches Eric again, he is burnt and drops dead instantly.
After being caught by the police, the local constabulary sends in a psychologist, Christine Aas (Iben Akerlie), to assess him. Christine’s calm and curious demeanor relaxes Eric, and he opens up to her. He demonstrates his unstable powers by electrifying the police station and burning an interrogation table with his bare hands.
When the US embassy is alerted of Eric’s presence in Norway, they send in a special representative, Cora Hathaway (Priyanka Bose). Her mission is to contain the situation and take Eric back to the States. Arriving at the station, Cora gets Eric to sedate himself and puts him on a transport helicopter.
Although sedated, Eric wakes up mid-flight in terror. Out of control, he fries the helicopter’s control systems. He also manifests stormy weather, impairing visibility and causing the aircraft to go into a tailspin and crash into the sea.
Escaping the scene of the downed helicopter, now underwater, Eric is a fugitive. With psychologist Christine’s assistance, Eric has to learn to control his extraordinary talent before he kills everyone around him.
From a production standpoint, cinematographer Roman Osin has shot some gorgeous scenes of the fjords in Hordaland, Norway. These fjords are beautiful locations. The film’s visual effects are also photorealistic and engaging to look at, as impressive as any mainstream blockbuster.
Disappointing is the movie’s pace, which slows to a crawl at points. Tighter editing and cutting the film to 90 minutes would have made a big impact.
Also underwhelming is the muted, charisma-free performance from lead Nat Wolff. I didn’t appreciate that his character seems to be often cowering or distraught.
I respect that director André Øvredal plays the movie straight, without irony or a mocking tone. Still, a shorter runtime would have made the film better. While Mortal builds to an enthralling finale, it is a slog to get there.
I would recommend Mortal for digital rental or purchase only if you are a hardcore fan of Norse Mythology or Science Fiction dramas.
By: John Matrix