Mortal Engines review
What’s It About?
Set in a dystopian world where cities exist on mobile traction engines, a mysterious stranger threatens to uncover a conspiracy that goes right to the top.
Who’s In It?
Hera Hilmar (Anna Karenina, Get Santa, & more recently An Ordinary Man)
Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Fortitude, & more recently Geostorm)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Lord Of The Rings, & more recently The Dressmaker)
Other notables include:
Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don’t Breathe, & more recently Hostiles)
Colin Salmon (Resident Evil, The World Is Not Enough, Punsiher: War Zone & more recently London Has Fallen)
Director: Christian River (debut)
Based on Philip Reeve’s hugely popular young adult books, Peter Jackson has brought his considerable force behind adapting these for the big screen. Set in a futuristic dystopian world, people eke out an existence on great big mobile cities, built somewhat implausibly on giant traction engines.
The world, we are told, destroyed itself in a mere 60 minutes, and now it has become a dog eat dog world, or should that be city eat city world? Either way, it certainly has echoes of Star Wars, and also Rogue One, with a mysterious scarred girl who is out for vengeance following the death of her mother, and tries to take down the supposedly noble leader of the London city, Thaddeus Valentine (played by Hugo Weaving).
Lovable accidental hero Tom gets in the way, but with the help of the girl Hesta, discovers that Valentine is not what he seems, and ends up in a frantic battle to survive and ultimately try to take Valentine down.
The opening of Mortal Engines is as epic as you could hope for when thinking of Peter Jackson’s back catalogue (though this is only produced by him, with newcomer Christian Rivers on directing duty), with an incredible chase scene reminiscent of Mad Max.
Lead performances are all solid with young Icelandic actress Hera Hilmar impressing in the Jyn Erso style role as a mysterious, scarred woman hell-bent on vengeance, and she is given strong support from the likeable if slightly in-your-face Robert Sheehan, and the not-so-likeable but oh-so-watchable Hugo Weaving.
Unfortunately, however, the film takes something of a downturn borrowing, presumably, from The Terminator with a mechanised robot called Shrike trying to hunt down our heroine, and Korean pop star Jihae adding little more than asides. As a result, Mortal Engines, despite a frenetic pace, loses much originality and becomes a run of the mill generic action thriller.
In A Nutshell:
Despite a strong opening echoing Mad Max, unfortunately it soon descends into predictable generic fodder.
The Mad Max-style opening chase sequence
Hera Hilmar and Hugo Weaving as always
The generic second half
Certificate: 12 / 12A