‘Mortal’ Review: Discovering Superpowers, None Too Quickly

The title “Mortal” wouldn’t seem to require much explanation, but this Norway-set fantasy film leads with a handy definition (“mortal [mawr-tl] n. A human being”). Its estimation of viewers’ intelligence doesn’t improve from there.

Directed by André Ovredal (last year’s more appealing “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”), “Mortal” isn’t really a movie proper as it is ponderous scene-setting for a potential sequel. It centers on Eric (Nat Wolff), an American of Norwegian descent first seen as a struggling backpacker in need of a haircut. He wanders into a town, grabs some medical supplies and is hectored by local teenagers. After getting shoved, Eric warns a boy not to touch him. The kid does anyway, barely — and instantly drops dead.

The police are baffled. Eric’s superpowers confound him as well, although, as a hangdog of few words, he initially appears more interested in brooding than in solving the mystery. A psychologist (Iben Akerlie) intuits that his abilities are tethered to his emotions. Eric’s deadly touch can also heal. And he can control weather, allowing the filmmakers to stage show-offy effects sequences like a helicopter crash or a lightning storm on a bridge. A United States government official (Priyanka Bose) fears Eric’s godlike abilities will upend the globe, because he’ll be proof that the world’s faithful are worshiping the wrong god.

But is Eric a god? Or is he auditioning for “X-Men: Scandinavia”? The long-deferred answers aren’t satisfying on their own, and even less so when “Mortal” stops short just when it’s getting started. Wait for the next movie, sucker.

Rated R. Violent weather. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. In select theaters and available to rent or buy on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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