Review: The Mummy
Listen, if Universal decides to remake Jaws and casts Tom Cruise as the shark, I’m buying ten tickets and giving them out as gifts. He’s worked with all the legendary directors, from Kubrick to Paul Thomas Anderson to Spielberg. Cruise feels like a product of old cinema; a true movie star. Total film nerd, watches a movie a day, his own stuntman and above all, has the reputation of being the best person to work with. I’m a Cruise fanboy, through and through.
The Mummy brings my love for Cruise into question.
Cruise plays Nick Morton, a wisecracking soldier-of-fortune who is “if Indiana Jones was an H&M model,” stumbles upon the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess. Morton’s fellow teammate and casual partner Jenny (played forgettably by Annabelle Wallis) is fascinated by this discovery, boarding it for a one-way ticket out of Iraq. But of course, mummy don’t like to be taken out her tomb. She summons birds to bust through the cockpit to kill the pilots. Morton’s buddy (Jake Johnson) is now a zombie after being bitten by a camel spider and Morton somehow survives the plane crash. The mummy somehow keeps Morton alive to use him for her own gain now that she’s free. Thus setting up the reason to go catch the mummy and such.
Directly on the plane’s impact, Cruise’s characteristics become vagary and enigmatic. Three screenwriters with their hands on this story are obvious with the level of comic relief that feels tacked on throughout. They tried to make Cruise’s love interest have some sort of delicate inspiration for her craft in the antiquated, yet none of the characters feel authentic or worthy of our empathy.
The Mummy is the first entry of Universal’s new Dark Universe series, involving remakes of the classic Universal Monsters. I’m vastly ignorant about the Universal Monsters, having not seen any of them, but I know they were horror films. The horror vibe seem to be void in the new Dark Universe, instead making it into an action franchise. The Mummy doesn’t try to be scary in the least bit and fails as an action piece.
It’s easy to turn The Mummy into a punching bag, but I honestly want to know, what was Universal thinking? Setting up an entire extended universe before the first entry even releases? This will have to destroy overseas to get any sort of profit.
What astounded me was how this film goes nowhere. There’s one singular action scene involving a lot of sand and that’s mostly it. It’s become cliche and easy to rag on a film for relying on exposition, but that’s the majority of this film. I assume this was written with the Dark Universe in mind, as not only does everyone in the film have to explain the plot ad nauseam, they have to drop the knowledge about future films and their characters as well.
It’s exhausting. Marvel’s extended universe, potholes excluded, feels like a never ending journey with the characters. The Mummy and the new Dark Universe serve one purpose: to make money. Instead of concealing the monetary necessities nestled within a universe, it’s one piece of the puzzle you have to chew before you get to the rest. A feature length cliffhanger for a story not worth revisiting or investing in to begin with.
The imprisoned mummy breaks free in one scene to scowl at Cruise’s character and announce, “there are fates worse than death.” Breaking the fourth wall to inform the audience on their misplaced idea to think 2017 and beyond needed action reboots of horror characters from the 1930s. It’s a concept of its time and like the titular mummy, needed to stay buried.