Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. That’s an old expression essentially meaning, don’t assume anything. I was thinking about that before a single image of The Mummy popped up on the screen.
That’s because even before the movie began, the Universal logo appeared and then quickly morphed into a much darker and brooding logo called “Dark Universe.”
This is what Universal is calling their new monster cinematic universe where they intend to produce movies featuring Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Dr. Jekyll among others. It’s the Marvel blueprint.
Of course one of the reasons Marvel has had so much success with their cinematic universe is because they knocked it out of the park right away with the release of Iron Man.
So Universal made a seemingly smart decision to hire Tom Cruise to jumpstart their DU. But while Cruise is certainly a big name, he doesn’t seem to quite fit in this type of genre.
Cruise is an old-school movie star bred in the days of practical stunts and effects. In this, he spends most of the movie fighting cgi rats, the undead and a mummy. The two best scenes involve a plane crash and a fight Cruise has with Russell Crowe who plays Dr Jekyll.
What those scenes have in common is that they’re practical action sequences shot in camera with Cruise doing the stunt work. That’s his world. But by having him react to things that aren’t there for large stretches of The Mummy, director Alex Kurtzman and the SIX writers attached to this have highlighted what Cruise is. A Timex watch in a digital age.
Cruise plays Nick Morton, a Nathan Drake-type treasure hunter who happens to stumble upon an ancient Egyptian ruin. The only problem is, it’s buried in the middle of Iraq.
What Morton, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) don’t know is that they have unknowingly awakened Ahmanet (Sofie Boutella), a pissed off Egyptian who had her heir to the thrown taken from her. Now she intends to release darkness upon the earth.
The plot for this film is unbelievably simplistic. Guy awakens tomb, mummy gets angry and wants to destroy the world. But of course she needs a stone to do it. Not an infinity stone, or a cube or a sword, but a stone. They really need to ease up on all of these macguffins.
I guess I should give the film credit for not being too convoluted, but if the plot is going to suffer, at least give me interesting characters. Cruise doesn’t really play anyone. He’s cocky and selfish in the beginning, but once he comes in contact with the tomb, he spends the rest of the movie seeing visions and having a look on his face of utter bewilderment.
Johnson is the wise-cracking sidekick. But instead of providing comic relief, he just shouts!
Wallis is forgettable as Jenny and unlike Cruise’s recent female co-stars, she’s nothing more than a damsel in distress. Didn’t Wonder Woman come out last week?
Boutella is the bright spot. With Kingsman, Star Trek Beyond and now this, Boutella has really established herself as a budding female action star. Her physicality is intoxicating and she certainly provides a level of menace.
Crowe is interesting as Dr. Jekyll, but he’s basically the de facto Nick Fury of this world spouting exposition for the entirety of his screen time. At least we have that great fight. It comes at the midway point and it not only sets up his character, but showcases two movie stars appearing on screen for the first time in a brutal way.
Having said all of that, the pace is actually pretty good. I was never bored by The Mummy which is all you should ask for in a summer movie. Is it a good movie? No. Is it one of Cruise’s worst? Yes. But even Cruise’s worst is still better than most popcorn movies. You really think Transformers: The Last Knight is going to be better than this?
The Mummy is a dour-looking movie with no real personality. Nearly every joke falls flat and it can’t decide if it wants to be an action movie or a horror movie. They thought by bringing in Cruise, Universal could get the ball rolling on a new franchise. But the pieces don’t seem to fit.
The movie of course sets up future installments, but right about now, I’m kind of missing Brendan Fraser.