The Mummy (2017)
Another reboot, another studio setting up a cinematic universe; however I was very much excited for the newest iteration of The Mummy. Tom Cruise helms the feature, which will also introduce Universal’s “Dark Universe” which will feature interconnected movies featuring the likes of Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, the creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, and Dracula.
The previous Mummy films dating back to the 1932 Boris Karloff original were set in pre-World War II Egypt. This 2017 version however, takes place mostly in present day London. Nick (Tom Cruise) is an ex-military mercenary working as a treasure hunter for a corporation headed by Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). Nick finds the mummy of a cursed Egyptian princess in Iraq. The mummy (played by Sofia Boutella) however, seems to have been reawakened by Nick and his fellow explorers. On the ride back to England, Nick’s plane crashes releasing the mummy on British soil.
This film could have gone one of two ways: horror like Karloff’s 1932 film, or campy action like the 1999 Brendan Frasier reboot; the final product is a diluted mixture of both. Unfortunately, the “scary” aspects rely too much on scattered jump scares, and the action scenes and humor are flat and underwhelming.
I enjoyed the first half of the film, as by-the-books as it was there was a fun element to it, with Cruise even managing to pull off a couple of one-liners. However, towards the midpoint, the film slows down when Crowe is introduced and we are given a long and droning expository monologue for the planned “Dark Universe,” to the point that you forget the plot of The Mummy momentarily. And when the story does decide get back on track, it’s for a stretched and disappointing boss fight that left me thinking: “that’s it?”
There are multiple reasons to this flop in quality at the end. One is that it is director Alex Kurtzman’s second film at the helm, so his grasp of carrying an entire narrative might not be pruned yet. The second reason comes from the obvious fair bit of studio involvement, as executives were desperate to leave traces tying up to other film projects a la Marvel. Finally, Cruise himself couldn’t hold up the film alone. Boutella is fine as the mummy, but she’s mostly just strolling and looking menacing; Cruise’s sidekick is Jenny, played by Annabelle Wallis, who struggled keeping a straight face with some delivery, and didn’t even have much chemistry with Cruise.
Overall The Mummy is a bit of a letdown. There is an enjoyable blockbuster, somewhere in there, but the failure of several key aspects is an underwhelming blow to this new cinematic world.