Should have stayed buried.
The Mummy is one of the most asinine experiences I’ve ever had at the movies. I did not enjoy a single frame of it. Not one. If the entire film stock was ripped from the theaters and used as body wrapping for a King Tut replica in a museum, I’d be completely fine with it. At least then it would have served a more useful purpose. Or even any purpose, really.
A remake/reboot/re-imagining of the Mummy tale done too many times over, this rendition of The Mummy stars Tom Cruise in a role so forgettable that I refuse to even recognize him using his character’s name. The story (*belches*) follows Corporal Tom, who is the typical bad boy in the military, stuck with boring female interest Annabelle Wallis and stock best friend sidekick Jake Johnson looking for buried treasure in Iraq.
Just so you know, I had to look up both of the actors names just to type them up. I would have rather left their credits blank just to save time writing this review.
The big baddie: a grey-skinned, Egyptian-tattooed mummified Goddess named Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), whose movements and speech is so awkward and clumsy that she makes Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress in Suicide Squad look like a Victoria’s Secret model. If this is the best movie monster that Universal can come up with, they should fire all of their future actors, makeup artists, and costume designers and just place Barbie dolls in their places. They would save money, they would get the same plastic performance, and the Barbies would actually be creepy, unlike any of the scenes containing Boutella in them.
I have so many problems with this movie, but let’s start with the most glaring problem of them all: Tom Cruise. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. Even in his older age, Cruise still manages to enthusiastically dish out one role after another, from the intelligent and ruthless action thriller Jack Reacher, to the creative and captivating Edge of Tomorrow, to his familiar role as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. I like the guy when he is in movies that work for him. The Mummy, however, irredeemably embodies the worst parts of Cruise as an actor.
I admittedly don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s Cruise’s half-witted delivery with all of his lines. Maybe it’s because he acts like he’s manically tweaked up on heroine in moments where his character is supposed to be calm and collective. Maybe it’s because for three quarters of the movie he’s spent either running away from terrible CGI or fighting PG-13 zombies in various slapping contests. Or maybe it’s because the film is written so poorly that it doesn’t know how to play off of Cruise’s charisma or charm. I simply don’t know, and a close analysis of his terrible scenes does nothing to bring any more clarity to the situation.
I’ll cut him some slack though, if for no other reason than that Russell Crowe is equally terrible here as Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Yes, you read that right. What on Earth is Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde doing in a Mummy picture? For marketing purposes? Whatever. He’s just as forgettable and useless here as Cruise is. For half of his screen time, he’s either spent narrating over cliché flashback sequences or going Frankenstein on poor Corporal Tom’s frail body. What happened to him? He was funny and crass in last year’s The Nice Guys alongside Ryan Gosling. Now he’s stuck with just talking in a raspy British dialect and spazzing out on his co-stars. God, it’s depressing to see what actors will do for a paycheck.
This is a film that, for the life of me, I cannot understand how it ended up so unabashedly bad as it did. The film is written and directed by Alex Kurtzman, who up until now has been mostly consistent with his body of work. He’s co-written multiple successful blockbusters, including Mission Impossible III, Watchmen, and the Star Trek films. He’s produced Cowboys & Aliens, Now You See Me, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Granted, his director debut People Like Us had earnest intentions but collapsed under the weight of its own mediocrity. Still, in the world of Hollywood, Kurtzman is more experienced and reliable than most. How did he flub it up so badly and make a film as silly, stupid, and inconsistent as this?
I think it’s because instead of focusing on creating a coherent and exciting action thriller, he was trying to make a franchise. The Mummy is the first entry under the Dark Universe imprint, an expanded franchise that shares all of Universal’s horror icons under one banner (Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, etc). If this is any indication of what’s to come for the franchise, they need to end it right here and now. The Mummy wants so desperately to launch into an expanded horror universe that it focuses too much on the superficial elements and not enough on the grounded ones. I can name to you every bland action scene in this putrid movie, every excrement of attempted comedy and drama that fails oh so spectacularly. But I can’t tell you a thing about its characters, their flat motivations, or their meaningless placement in this uninspired story. Marvel and DC are blatant in their universe-building for sure, but at least they have interesting characters and scenarios to go along with it. Whatever interest The Mummy might have had sinks beneath its narrative incapacity: like throwing the screenplay into quicksand.
The Mummy gets half of a star as opposed to its deserving zero only because it is brainless and not offensive, unlike the films Split and A Cure For Wellness which succeed in being both. Still, don’t let the generosity fool you. The Mummy is bad, and not just in the regular type of cliché blockbuster genericism bad, but in an impressively stupefying type of bad that wastes our money, intelligence, patience, and capacity to enjoy Tom Cruise all at once. This really is a special kind of terrible. Film professors should host special screenings of it just to show their students how not to make a movie. Maybe they could also invite Universal’s producers so they can learn as well.