The Mummy

2017-06-10 08:51

What it's about:

Nick Morton is a career soldier and amateur thief who uses his tours in the Middle East to unearth valuable antiquities to sell on the black market but when he and his partner in crime come across an ancient Egyptian tomb in the middle of Iraq, he soon finds himself targeted by a powerful evil.

What we thought:

Taking a cue from the “shared universes” of DC and Marvel, the Mummy – which actually has almost nothing to do with the 1990s blockbuster of the same name – is the inaugural film in Universal Picture's “Dark Universe” where a bunch of (public domain) movie monsters meet, team up and fight in a manner not too dissimilar from the Justice League or the Avengers. It's a fun idea but unlike Iron Man – though rather like Man of Steel – the Mummy does not exactly get things off to a flying start. 

Things do begin promisingly, however, as we are introduced to the Egyptian princess whose quest for power sets her on the course towards becoming the titular monster via some nicely dotty cod-Ancient-Egyptian-mythology and a one-note but enjoyably pulpy performance from Sofia Boutella (wearing slightly less makeup than she did in Star Trek Beyond). This gives way to easily the most entertaining segment of the film where we meet a roguish but very Tom-Cruisy Tom Cruise and New Girl's reliably funny Jake Johnson doing a mischievous riff on Indiana Jones as they try and out race a bunch of faceless terrorists to some very valuable archaeological treasure. 

These early section suffer from the same terribly lame dialogue as the rest of the film but there's a fun, swashbuckling feel that permeates the first act of the film that unfortunately comes crashing down along with the plane crash that brings both our heroes and the mummy princess to good old London in the film's most publicised sequence. Things don't go wrong immediately as there is still some fun to be had, especially between Cruise and Johnson, but the film's many fatal flaws start making themselves very apparent.

The most obvious problem here is that the fun fantasy adventure of the start of the film starts being eroded by extremely ineffective CGI-drenched horror, increasingly dull action scenes and a convoluted but dull plot that eats its own tail long before the film's relatively brief 110 minutes have run their course. The result is a dull, stodgy, visually unappealing mess that squanders the promise of its opening act and wastes Tom Cruise, who – I don't care what anyone says, is still the right blend of charisma, craziness and charm to be one of cinema's all time great movie stars.    

It's also a great pity that within a week of the release of Wonder Woman – which more than lived up to its name - the film's only non-evil female presence is Annabelle Wallis' interminably dull Jenny, an apparently brilliant archaeologist with ties to a shady organisation that is relegated to being little more than an utterly unconvincing love interest for Cruise's Nick and comes dangerously close to being little more than a device to help him along his hero's journey. Willis isn't great here but with a role this thankless, it's hard to blame her.
As for setting up the rest of this (not so) Dark Universe, the Mummy makes a bunch of obvious gestures towards upcoming monsters and even re-introduces us to one of literature's most intriguing hero/villains but nothing here really convinces that this whole experiment has a chance in hell of actually working. Which, again, is pretty surprising considering just how much potential fun there is be had pitting these classic monsters against one another.

Not a good start, then, but it does at least lack the self-seriousness of the similarly-purposed Man of Steel and the sheer unbridled crappiness of Gods of Egypt, the most recent Ancient-Egyptian-themed blockbuster to stink up our cinemas. That's something to be sure but if you're looking for a good Tom Cruise vehicle and/ or a good “creature feature”, this really isn't it. Not by a long shot.

Read more on:    tom cruise  |  russell crowe  |  movies

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