The Mummy (2017) Reviewby ASelenatorsView
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us) and stars Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible, Top Gun), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek Beyond), Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle, X-Men: First Class) and Russell Crowe (Noah, Gladiator). "An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension". There's a lot riding on The Mummy - it's launching Universal's Dark Universe. Tom Cruise in a summer action flick - what could possibly go wrong?
When The Mummy remake was first announced, I was really excited - despite never seeing the original series, I liked the concept and I'd heard great things. Unfortunately, this is the first big misstep of the summer. I've hated summer films already this year but who actually expected King Arthur to be good? The Mummy had potential and Universal are clearly excited about it and the doors it opens for their Dark Universe. However, now that the DCEU has finally cleaned up their act, it could become the Dark Universe that is renowned for making poor films. The Mummy has its moments but it's generally very silly, stupid, anticlimactic - even Tom Cruise can't save it.
The film begins on an extremely poor note - there's a prologue that is probably the most one dimensional prologues I have ever seen. It doesn't really make much actual sense - everything that happens simply happens because that's what the writers of the script decided. It's underwhelming as the backstory of Ahmanet (Boutella) had potential but it was rushed and simplified to something that came across as pretty silly - she was just power hungry and went psycho purely because she was no longer going to be next in line. The film could have took its time a little more here and explored the characters psychological emotions and motivations a little better - this would have made the film start on a much more coherent note. There's then a random cut to Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his irrelevant friend, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) - these characters are never developed, it's never clear what they're up to but there is abruptly then an action sequence that is also never explained and doesn't make much sense. The Mummy's script - which has been influenced and tweaked by 6 different people - is all over the place, sloppy and is where the film fails.
After the first act, the film does pick up a little and becomes slightly more bearable and entertaining. However, I don't actually believe that Ahmanet lives up to the title of 'The Mummy' - she spends most of the film captured and powerless or stalking Tom Cruise for a really bizarre, random and unclear reason. Ahmanet doesn't get to become truly evil until the last 10 minutes where the stakes are suddenly raised sky high - this feels out of place and very poorly executed as there is never actually a mention of the repercussions of Ahmanet's damage (she basically destroys London). I feel like destroying London was simply shoe-horned in there to heighten an action sequence as I think all the creators were aware that the film was building to a very anticlimactic and confusing finale. This is the first time in a while where I have laughed at a films stupidity - I laughed more than once at The Mummy - Ahmanet's motivation came across as Christian Grey-stalker-esque (she just kept popping up!) and there's a moment in the finale action sequence where a group of zombie-skeletons are swimming towards Cruise and it was just a hilariously silly visual.
Am I excited to return to the Dark Universe? Based purely on this film, my answer would be no. However, the next instalment is set to be Bride of Frankenstein which will be directed by Bill Condon - the director of one of my favourites of this year, Beauty and the Beast, so I do have some faith. I was excited that we got a full glimpse of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde in this film - I didn't think they'd give away both sides but I thought Mr Hyde's appearance was a little underwhelming. He basically looks like Ludendorff in Wonder Woman when he is inhaling that weird gas. Dr Jekyll also seems like he is going to be the centrepiece of the Dark Universe with his organisation he has set up. However, I was once again underwhelmed by the overall feel of his organisation - I didn't really want to explore the lab and I couldn't care less to go there again. Finally, Tom Cruise becomes Seth, The Egyptian God of Death at the end of the film - I had to seek help from Youtube's Grace Randolph to know that as I was really confused by what Cruise's character had become. I'm sure he'll appear in future films in this world though. The ending was very anticlimactic though as Ahmanet is slowly gaining power throughout the film and I wanted to see her take out Nick and have him as her chosen one - not for Nick to do it to himself and then kill Ahmanet. Nick simply did this to sacrifice himself and bring Jenny (Wallis) back to life - despite the two having no chemistry, prior relationship to this film's story - they simply only knew each other as they had a one night stand in order for Nick to steal some information.
The Mummy does have redeeming qualities and those are often found within the action sequences - they are always entertaining to watch and add some needed energy to the film. The sequence involving the crows on the plane was pretty horrific to watch - I thought it was well done. I also liked the finale action sequence and the way the film briefly utilised the London location, landmarks and symbols despite it not really being necessary. The Mummy was surprisingly a little scarier than I was expecting - I jumped a couple of times, mostly because the film becomes a zombie film for a large part. The visual effects were also solid - they weren't anything remarkable but I liked how Ahmanet was realised - she looks like a better version of Enchantress from Suicide Squad. I also thought the scenes that were shot in the Egyptian desert were very visually pleasing.
Tom Cruise could not make this film could and I genuinely believe that he was miscast and did not belong in this film. I thought he was just playing himself and did not put near as much effort into this performance as he has done in his previous work (MI films in particular). Universal likely chose Cruise to kickstart this Dark Universe as he is one of the few movie stars left but I feel like even Cruise himself knew he wasn't making anything special, he didn't have his Mojo. There's a reason Cruise has been talking about the Top Gun sequel in most interviews for The Mummy - he's trying to avoid answering questions about this summer dud. Sofia Boutella would have made a great Enchantress in Suicide Squad - definitely better than Cara Delevingne but I feel like she really didn't get to truly shine as The Mummy was not the centre of her own movie. Boutella was good, I hope we get to see more of her in this role. Annabelle Wallis had some really poor moments - for a large part of the film, I thought she was pretty awful and unconvincing. I was fully onboard the Russell Crowe train until he turned into Mr Hyde and his performance was shockingly bad - I know what he was trying to go for but for me, it didn't work. Finally, Jake Johnson - I don't really get the point of his character at all and his performance was nothing to be proud of.
The Mummy has so much going for it, I actually don't understand how it went so wrong. Possibly because the director is pretty inexperienced so Universal made the mistake of hiring him to kickstart the Dark Universe? Possibly because there were so many hands all over the script making it sloppy? Possibly because Tom Cruise is getting a little too big for his boots? There are many different reasons for why this didn't quite work. I love films so I want to see more and where this universe will go but it's certainly off to a very rocky start. There are some entertaining action sequences and some surprisingly scary moments. However, the acting is weak, the script is poor, there is no satisfying climax and the world isn't introduced in the most exciting way - The Mummy may just have buried the Dark Universe before it even got started.