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Released: June 9th 2017 (United States)
Length: 107 Minutes
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Sofia Boutella, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Javier Botet and Russel Crowe
The Mummy is the opening chapter for Universal’s Dark Universe, a studio-wide reboot that plans to bring together all the classic movie monsters that made their debut in the black and white era of cinema. Despite bringing a heap of talent to bear, this modern remake comes off as a very limp start.
Taking place in Egypt and England, The Mummy follows explorer/soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) as he searches the desert for any fancy artifacts to sell on the black market alongside his partner Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). In a super random escape sequence from unnamed Middle Eastern militants, Nathan discovers an ancient sarcophagus containing the Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was punished for her dealings with dark magic. On the flight back to England, the curse within the coffin fights back, causing the plane to crash into a rural British village. Strange things begin to occur as Nathan wakes up after the crash and after linking up with a few characters, embarks on a mad dash through England to put a stop to the Mummy’s rampage while also unearthing further mysteries along the way. With too much expositional jargon and a tone that bounces all over the place, The Mummy 2017 edition just doesn’t invest the audience in any major way. Right down to the opening where Russel Crowe jarringly talks to the audience, instead of being immersed you become disengaged with the whole thing. So many different tones make their way into The Mummy but none of them are done very well; the mysteries never become intriguing, the brief comedy is always annoying and even the creepier moments fell short for me.
Bland and boring characters are the name of the game in The Mummy; compared with Brendan Fraser’s rendition, there’s a complete lack of charisma that would get the audience on board. Tom Cruise throws himself into the action sequences, no doubt about that, but his character really isn’t worth getting behind; just like the film’s tone, he swings between a casual rogue and more serious adventurer without any rhyme or reason and sadly, Cruise just can’t nail the latter here. Annabelle Wallis plays the pseudo love interest Jenny Halsey but she’s barely worth talking about. Her character is painfully dull one moment and a helpless damsel in the next. There’s barely any chemistry between Wallis and Cruise, making their bond completely forgettable. Chris Vail as a sidekick is incredibly annoying and the film insists on having him pop up in a way resembling 1981’s An American Werewolf in London. By trying to serve as the comic relief, he comes off as yet another misplaced piece in the film’s composition. Russell Crowe’s Henry is also very weak; he’s mostly there to talk in a sophisticated voice, spoon-feeding much of the plot to the audience, and the eventual reveal for his character feels incredibly tacked on. The Mummy herself fares better at least; at first, she reminded me of the laughable Enchantress from last year’s Suicide Squad but Boutella pulls it off, delivering a weird blend of unhinged rage and seductive mannerisms. Titular character aside though, The Mummy doesn’t do much else to make its characters work, something which won’t bode well for future films.
The Mummy is at least well-produced from a visual standpoint. The action is well filmed, particularly the scene where a storm of grey sand tears its way through London. Its lighting feels very thematic with the bright sun-drenched splendour of ancient Egypt giving way to dark, moody interiors. Combine this with the low-lit Egyptian architecture in the sets and you have an atmosphere that works where the plot and characters fail. The effects on the central villainess are very well-handled too, particularly with the idea of her slowly regaining life (and skin) by draining it from others in a particularly grotesque fashion. The music is far from memorable but it fits the central plotline of an ancient evil arising from the ashes well enough. It’s a well-edited production, but that’s where the positives end.
The Mummy may be competently produced as a summer blockbuster but without good characters or an intriguing story to get behind, many of the things it tries to do fall flat. At best, it’s a mildly competent special effects bonanza and at worst it’s a laughable, half-baked effort desperate for its revival to turn into something larger at the first hurdle.
Rating: 2/5 Stars (Disappointing)