I’d read the bad reviews, but thought “Hey, it’s Tom Cruise – how bad could it be?” The answer is, “Pretty bad”.
It’s an ominous sign when a film starts with a voice-over (even if done by the sonorous tones of Russell Crowe). Regular readers of this blog will know I generally abhor voice-overs: it invariably belies a belief by the scriptwriters that they think the audience are too damn stupid to join up the plot-dots themselves. Here we portentously walk through the ancient Egyptian backstory of princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella, “Kingsman: The Secret Service“; “Star Trek Beyond“) cursed to become the titular Mummy. We then skip forward to the present day and the film settles down, promisingly enough, with scavenging adventurer Nick Morton (Cruise, in Indiana Jones mode), discovering a lost Egyptian temple in war-torn modern-day Mesopotamia that for the sake of the world should have stayed lost.
But after an impressive plane crash (with zero G scenes filmed for real in a “Vomit Comet”) the plot dissolves into a completely incoherent mush. With B-movie lines forcing B-movie acting performances, the film lurches from plot crisis to plot crisis in a similar manner to the comically lurching undead Zombie-like creatures that Ahmanet has sucked the life out of. (After 110 minutes of this, I know how they feel!)
What were actors of this calibre doing in this mess? When I first saw the trailer for this, and saw that Cruise was in it, I thought this felt like an unusual career misstep for the megastar. After seeing the film, I’m even more mystified. Nick Morton is supposed to be an immoral bad guy. Immoral bad guy?? Tom Cruise?? Nope, you lost the audience on that one in the first ten minutes. Cruise, who is STILL only a year younger than I am (damn him, for real!) is still in great shape and must spend ALL his time in the gym. There must be a time soon coming though where he gets to a “Roger Moore in View to a Kill” moment where these action hero roles just no longer become credible anymore.
And what was Russell Crowe, as a famous / infamous (yes, both!) doctor from literature doing in this? His character’s involvement in the plot was almost completely inconsequential. In fact his ‘affliction’ only serves as a coincidental diversion (how convenient!) for bad Mummy-related action to happen. His character has no backstory and seems to serve only as a backbone for Universal’s “Dark Universe” franchise that this movie is supposed to launch. (Good luck with that Universal after this stinker!) Surely it would have made more sense to have the first film in the series to be the origins story for Crowe’s character and the organisation he sets up. This would have made far more sense.
Annabelle Wallis, who is sweet and “only” 22 years his junior, plays Cruise’s love interest in the film and equips herself well, given the material she has to play with. However (after “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword“) she must be kicking herself for not picking the ‘right’ summer blockbusters for her CV.
The main culprit here is the plot, which again is mystifying given that the writing team includes David Koepp (“Jurassic Park”; “Mission Impossible”); Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects”, “Edge of Tomorrow“) and Jon Spaihts (“Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation“, “Doctor Strange“). A poor script can sometimes be salvaged by a good director, but here we have Alex Kurtzman, who has only one other directing credit to his name. And I’m afraid it shows. All round, not a good day at the office.
Brian Tyler did the music (aside from the Danny Elfman opening “Dark Universe” fanfare) but it comprises what I would term “running and jumping music”, with few discernible leitmotifs for the characters breaking through.
“Was that supposed to be funny?” My wife’s reaction after the film sums up that this really is a bit of a stinker. Best avoided.
Fad Rating: Ff.