Aida Vucic | 12/06/2017
Well, if you thought this version of The Mummy was going to be better than those before it, you are sadly mistaken. With such high hopes, given the star power supporting the film (namely Tom Cruise and Tom Cruise alone), we expected greater things from such a highly anticipated film. But nothing could salvage the movie from its underdeveloped plot line, cliché script and bizarre tonal shifts.
Following a failed debut (Dracula Untold) that Universal would rather forget, The Mummy is built to kick off the Dark Universe series - an expensive MCU style world of Universal's hottest monster properties. If this film is any reflection of the sequels to come, we can't say we're super excited.
Following Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a decorated soldier turned antique thief (or as he coins himself “a liberator of precious antiques”), the movie doesn't really care about giving you any solid backstory. Have you ever had a more unclear, skimmed over and impossible profession than 'decorated soldier turned antique thief'? Whilst on a liberating exhibition in Iraq, Nick and his trusty sidekick Corporal Chris Vale (Jake Johnson) uncover an ancient Egyptian tomb. Nick hopes to get his greedy hands on the treasures inside, but his plans are spoiled by Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) - a beautiful archaeologist who shared a romantic evening with our protagonist. Conveniently for our protagonist, her career has been building to the finding of this site and the tomb it holds. Unbeknownst to at least Nick and Corporal Vale, an evil Egyptian Princesses sarcophagus lies within and Nick cunningly breaks the chains that bind her tomb, freeing Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella), cursing himself in the process as the "chosen one". Before Ahmanet can release the power of the evil god, “Set”, she must find the magic dagger hidden in England and its Jewel and here the race for the good of humanity begins.
It’s action, it’s horror, it’s romance, its comedy - it’s unclear. The film struggles to execute any of these genres, alternating between genres with little room to breathe. The action scenes are by far the best executed, which is only right given Cruise’s long tenure as the defining action hero in cinema. The horror elements have some undeniably jumpy moments, but the creatures themselves feel amateurish - simply CGI zombies walking around. And while the chemistry between Cruise and Wallis is believable, their characters backstories and motivation aren’t. The banter between Cruise and Johnson, although amusing at first, is limited by an early death for Johnson. There isn't enough space to develop the comedic tone between them, which means that even in the duo's short buddy rogue routine, the dialogue feels forced. Perhaps this is due to Cruise's longstanding on-screen persona. His early banter with Johnson is no doubt entertaining, and a fresh take on his usual do-gooders. But we as an audience need longer to get used to this unfamiliar face of Cruise, and once Johnson slips out of the picture early in the piece, Cruise reverts back (for the most part) to his regular routine.
After the head spins you'll experience from the numerous tonal shifts, it's lucky that The Mummy certainly won’t be too strenuous on your intellect. You’re spoon feed the entire plot, with exposition and narration dragging on for almost as long as Ahmanet was buried. If you don't like horror, don't worry - the endless exposition will make up for the roller coast of emotions you’ve endured from jump scares to put you straight to sleep.
The majority of the cast performs well. Russell Crowe is really the only sore point, with a strange performance as both Jekyll and Hyde. He seems more of an afterthought than an actual character - seemingly introducing someone specifically for the purposes of providing a narration as to the Dark Universe and what we can expect in the proceeding sequels. Tom Cruise, in a raging defiant scream against natural aging, looks great, and while the script may be poor he still spits out the dialogue with the same swaggering venom you’ve seen in his previous films. We saw Wallis play in brief stint in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword but she makes her real big Hollywood breakthrough in The Mummy. Sharing the screen with Cruise may be intimidating, but Wallis clearly relished the opportunity, and it's propelled her performance capabilities to greater heights.
For his sophomore picture, director Alex Kurtzman has played it safe by bludgeoning a charming, idiotic but lovable original series into generic Hollywood mush. Trust us: you'll spend this unusual tale of a crazy-girl-stalker intent on chasing down Cruise wishing for the irreverent and sorely missed charm of Brendan Fraser.