After seemingly going off the deep end back in the mid-2000s over his love of Katie Holmes and Scientology, Tom Cruise’s acting career has quietly managed to surge ahead in the past decade, with Cruise reinventing himself as an action star. In performing his own stunts in films such as Jack Reacher, the Mission Impossible franchise, and Edge of Tomorrow, up until this point he’s acquitted himself well.
The idea behind the new film is solid: reboot the Dark Universe with a slew of new monster movies, such as Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Van Helsing. The Mummy is expected to be the first story of a larger-arcing plot. If things go well, a new generation will be introduced to the legendary monsters that frightened and entertained our grandparents and great-grandparents.
(Sidenote, if you’re like me, you do a little recon on films before you see them, so you might go to Wikipedia and presume this is a reboot of the Brendan Fraser after seeing “It is a reboot of The Mummy franchise.” Turns out, if you actually read into it, this ISN’T the case, but reading clearly isn’t my forte.)
Unfortunately, The Mummy starts the series off poorly by stumbling right out of the gate. It’s extremely formulaic, to the point of being predictable. For the first 20 minutes, it’s hard to distinguish it from being another National Treasure movie (American protagonist, goofy sidekick, beautiful non-American blonde expert tagging along). The protagonist, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), the sidekick, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), and the expert, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), stumble upon the grave of Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) in modern-day Iraq, even though Ahmanet lived in Cairo. Maybe the tomb is like a coconut and gets carried by a swallow.
It turns out Ahmanet wasn’t a very nice lady. Angry she would be passed over for the title of pharoah by her younger brother, she murdered her family and attempted to bring Set, the Egyptian god of death), to life by stabbing some poor bloke with a magical knife. Her plan was foiled, and she was buried alive; now that she’s been awakened, she aims to complete her task, with Morton as the new intended target. In other words, the same essential story as the previous Mummy films, with the genders reversed.
Even when it tries to be its own film, the movie is essentially a barrage of overdone jump scares with little suspense. Don’t worry, though, there’s a plethora of them, because even though Ahmanet and her undead minions walk and crawl at a slow pace in one scene, they’re always able to catch up to Nick and Jenny. To be fair, it probably takes the crew a while to set up for the next shot, so instead of grabbing a coffee and donut between takes, they spend those precious minutes crawling to where the main characters are. Such dedication, those undead. But I guess you don’t really need donuts when you lack a functioning intestinal tract.
The biggest culprit for me, though, was Cruise’s character, Sgt. Nick Morton. Allegedly the protagonist of the film, he’s bereft of just about any sympathetic characteristics. A grave robber known for disobeying orders, he forces a subordinate to follow him early in the film, inadvertently leading to his death. Attempts are made to show that he cares about Jenny throughout the movie, but there isn’t really any chemistry between them. We’re left supposedly rooting for this guy throughout the film, but he’s the one who released the mummy due to his own greed and apathy; why the hell should we care if he lives or dies? Cruise himself doesn’t really seem to care a whole lot, as his performance is mediocre at best. Other than a few cool scenes (the vomit comet scene we’re shown in the trailer is perhaps the best of them), he just doesn’t seem to be all that interested. He’s not terrible, but he doesn’t carry the film, either. Wallis and Boutella don’t really get any character depth, either.
And then there’s Russell Crowe. Introduced in the trailers as a mysterious dude with an accent who seems to know what’s going on, he’s revealed to be Dr. Jekyll, who’s the leader of an organization trying to eliminate Ahmanet. I think the objective is to make him a part of the larger arcing storyline in the rest of the series, but his appearance was a bit of a waste here. Crowe’s a versatile enough actor that he could still make his character work in the remaining films, but don’t count on much from The Mummy.
Is there anything worth salvaging from the film? I’m hard-pressed to find anything really exemplary about it. There are a few funny moments in the film, mostly from Jake Johnson’s character and his interaction with Morton, but nothing that’d make it worth your time. The best part of seeing The Mummy? My buddy Brad and I got to see a Jeep painted like a Jurassic Park vehicle in the parking lot.
The Mummy gets a D.