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The Mummy (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

The Mummy

THE MUMMY (2017)

Starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Simon Atherton, Stephen Thompson, James Arama, Matthew Wilkas, Sohm Kapila, Sean Cameron Michael, Rez Kempton, Erol Ismail, Selva Rasalingam, Shanina Shaik and Javier Botet.

Screenplay by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman.

Directed by Alex Kurtzman.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 107 minutes. Rated PG-13.

As Tom Cruise’s flailing attempts to stay relevant as a leading man become more desperate, we end up with crap like this.

Once upon a time he was a smart, varied actor, as good in comedy as drama, action as fantasy. However, long ago he settled into a groove – making action films which stubbornly refuse to capture an audience. (Included in this long, not overly distinguished list are Edge of Tomorrow, Oblivion, Night & Day, Valkyrie, The Last Samurai and many more.) The only moderately popular films he can put his name to now seem to be the endless Mission Impossible sequels (all of which have done fairly well, but aren’t blockbusters) and the Jack Reacher series (again, only moderately successful).

Even though he became a star in a comedy – Risky Business – he has not done a funny film since Jerry Maguire in 1996 (unless you count his overrated cameo in Ben Stiller’s awful Tropic Thunder). Every once in a blue moon, he’ll take an adventurous or interesting supporting role (Magnolia, Rock of Ages), but mostly he is stuck on the action-adventure turnstile.

Sadly, no one is willing to pull Tom aside and point out that he’s gotten a little too old for this kind of action hero fodder. So here he goes, trying to jump start a new franchise that has almost no shot of catching on.

Odd that anyone would consider The Mummy relevant. It was an anachronism when Brendan Fraser was doing it 15 years ago. It was an anachronism when Scooby-Doo was running away from it in a spooky museum on Saturday morning cartoons. It was an anachronism when Abbott and Costello met it. Hell, the last time it probably was not an anachronism was when Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. were playing the role in the classic Universal horror films.

Of course, this is a newfangled “mummy” who isn’t exactly bandaged head to toe, stumbling forward with his hands outstretched. She is a hot female mummy whose bandages create a form-hugging catsuit and she has awesome magical powers beyond shambling forward.

Her story is conveyed to us through a long and overly-complicated introduction; one complete with ancient British knights, Egyptian pharaohs, Gods and monsters.

The beautiful mummy is Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princess who sees her succession to the throne disappear when her father has a son late in his life with his second wife. When she realizes that she will lose her birthright to rule, she makes a deal with Set – the God of the dead – to kill her father, his wife and newborn son. In return, she will get immortality and powers beyond belief. However, she is captured before she and her chosen vessel for Set can consummate their dark pact. Therefore, the Egyptians mummify her alive and bury her hundreds of miles away is a secluded crypt in Mesopotamia (now Iraq), where she will be imprisoned forever.

Yeah, right.

Cruise plays Nick Mason here, a military mercenary who is a hot-shot soldier, but who supplements his income by finding and stealing ancient artifacts to sell on the black market. He steals a map from a gorgeous scientist named Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) during a one-night stand, and ends up fighting Iranian troops with his less-than-willing partner Vail (Jake Johnson).

An American airstrike later, Ahmanet’s secret tomb is discovered, but the Army and Jenny are back on the case. (Jenny slaps Nick and publicly questions his prowess in bed, so you know they will be falling in love tout de suite.) Vail is possessed by the evil and is eventually killed, then he essentially becomes the Griffin Dunne character in An American Werewolf in London, an undead former best buddy no one else can see who pops up in odd places and offers the hero advice and wisecracks while he quickly decomposes before our eyes.

Then Ahmanet causes the plane carrying the sarcophagus to crash in London, right by the hiding place of an ancient relic dagger needed to turn Nick into the immortal Set. Jenny and Nick are the only survivors of the crash.

Jenny introduces Nick to the head of the secretive agency that wrangles monsters and evil in the world. It turns out to be Russell Crowe playing Henry Jekyll (of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde fame, because… why not?) The stories of the Mummy and Jekyll have nothing to do with each other – different source material, different eras, different locations. The only thin membrane of connection they have is they were both classic Universal monster films, but apparently that is enough, Universal seems to want to put together a literary universe like Marvel’s comic one. Apparently, they have forgotten the quick crash and burn of another film that tried that trick, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which coincidentally also featured Jekyll and Hyde.

The story moves on competently enough, I suppose, but sadly it all tends to be underwhelming. In fact, the special effects, especially of armies of the undead shimmying dangerously in attack, are somewhat laughable.

It is not likely The Mummy is going to revive Tom Cruise’s sputtering career. And frankly, he was kind of silly if he thought it would.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: June 9, 2017.

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