John Allegretti ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Mummy opens up with the Universal intro, which rotates around to reveal “Dark Universe,” an amber-tinted logo over a black globe. This reboot of the Universal monster series seeks to update its classic creatures in the action-adventure genre. This first entry in the franchise follows Princess Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella), a power-hungry Egyptian ruler buried alive for her crimes. When her tomb is unearthed by grave robber and Navy Seal Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), Ahmanet awakens and makes plans to unleash the Egyptain God of Death onto the world.
The film is directed by veteran screenwriter and previous Cruise collaborator Alex Kurtzman, who has penned blockbuster classics such as Mission: Impossible III and the 2009 Star Trek reboot. But from the first scene of The Mummy, it’s clear Kurtzman does not have a grasp on how to properly convey tone. Actors deliver lines with reckless intensity and most scenes carry little, if no dramatic weight. The action set pieces are either uninteresting or go by too quickly. Kurtzman is a talented writer, but can’t seem to nail down the basics of directing.
For a writer as good as Kurtzman, the characters in The Mummy are atrocious. Nick Morton (can we just call him Tom Cruise?) is a scummy thief with no redeemable moments. His partner, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson of New Girl fame), exists solely to spout out eye-rolling one-liners during action scenes. Russell Crowe also makes an appearance as Dr. Henry Jekyll (yup, THAT Dr. Jekyll) in a performance that is equal parts schlocky and entertaining. The only character who has some sort of arc going is Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), but her main goal is to just have sex with Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton (it doesn’t bode well when the first word used to describe her is “beautiful”). The same problem goes for Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), whose entire arc in the film is based on her having a fling with Cruise’s Morton off-screen. The Mummy’s characters end up being lifeless amalgamations of screams, one-liners, and makeup.
The film’s humor is funny, but not in the way it intends to be. Audiences may find themselves laughing less at the actual jokes and more at the botched delivery of them. For example, after a supernatural incident, a dead character haunts Cruise in such a tone-deaf way that it feels like a Tommy Wiseau-directed version of An American Werewolf in London. The Mummy may not be the action blockbuster Universal was hoping for, but it could become a so-bad-it’s-good cult classic down the line. Cruise’s performance in the film is so crazy and unhinged that it brings to mind Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man remake or Vampire’s Kiss.
The Mummy films have never ranked among the best of Universal’s horror pictures, and the 2017 reboot/remake stays true to that. An action-adventure shared cinematic universe sounds interesting, but this first entry is so tone-deaf that one wonders if audiences will even care about future films. The Mummy’s so-bad-it’s-good moments are entertaining and might have made it into a schlock classic if the rest of the film wasn’t so boring.
Overall Grade: D-
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