Mortal movie review & film summary (2020)

Now that the spoiler-averse have gone, let me tell you about Eric, the Norwegian-American protagonist of this movie. He is first seen tending to a gruesome burn on his leg. Mysterious fires start around him, so he’s roughing it outdoors by himself. We’re told that the farm he was staying at suspiciously burned down, killing everyone except him. And when he’s harassed by a bunch of adolescent troublemakers on the side of the road, he warns their leader “if you touch me again, you’ll burn.” The bully learns quickly that this is not a figurative statement.

The press materials describe the ensuing death as “accidental,” but it looked pretty damn intentional to me: Kid grabs Eric, Eric glowers, kid buys the farm. Rather than fry the witnesses, Eric runs off and is subsequently arrested for murder. While he awaits extradition back to the United States, the police bring in a psychologist named Christine (Iben Akerlie) to entice Eric into explaining why everybody around him suddenly winds up extra crispy. It’s no spoiler that Christine is introduced solely to become the clichéd love interest of the male hero in this type of film—nobody called a shrink for Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter”—and Eric initially woos her by with a terrifying display of his fire power. Sparks, electricity and big, roaring flames emanate from Eric throughout “Mortal.” The only place he can’t generate any sparks is between these two characters. The lack of even a platonic chemistry makes Christine’s life-threatening choices to save Eric not only nonsensical but infuriating.

Meanwhile, a villainous U.S. government agent named Hathaway (Priyanka Bose) issues ominous warnings about Eric to the police. We discover that the victims of the fatal farmhouse fire were the relatives Eric was seeking when he started tracing his ancestral roots. Those roots have something to do with Eric’s powers; it’s possible that his lineage traces all the way back to mythology. This tracks when Eric tells Christine that, when his powers are activated, he sees a tree. And not a happy little tree, as Bob Ross once painted. A giant tree that sounds like Yggdrasil. Eric also has the ability to control the weather, generating violent thunderstorms at will. “Mortal” tips its hand early when, after the second extreme display of meteorological mayhem by Eric to evade capture, a little kid squeals on the radio that a certain Norse god has returned.

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