When Universal Pictures landed Tom Cruise to headline The Mummy, the second first film in their monster-filled Dark Universe, there’s no way they could have foresaw this disaster. Tom Cruise may be the most famous movie star on the planet, and he may have saved the world a half-dozen times in his long-running career, but even his talent and star power can’t save this movie. This 2017 reboot of The Mummy may be ambitious, but it’s also pretty awful.
As you probably already know, I’m a pretty big Tom Cruise fan. So when critics started tearing this one apart, claiming it to be the worst movie of his career, I mostly brushed it off. Not only is Tom often the victim of vitriol, but I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way this movie could be worse than Jack Reacher 2.” Even if it is worse, surely I could at least expect to see some cool action sequences, right? Plus I’d get to see two of my favorite actors, Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, together in the same movie and that’s going to be awesome, right? Well, my friends, the answer is a big, resounding “No.” This is easily the worst Tom Cruise movie I have ever seen, the action sequences are dull, and I literally fell asleep during the big, climactic moment between Cruise and Crowe. There’s no other way to get around it. This rendition of The Mummy should have never been let out of its tomb.
The Mummy is a big, bloated, and mostly boring mess. As expected, that awesome airplane scene shown extensively in the trailer is the best part of the whole movie, and yet somehow I liked it better in the trailer than in the actual finished film. The movie itself surprisingly starts out pretty decent, but once that plane crashes and burns, so too does the rest of the movie. It’s a shame then that it happens so early on, but after that point the movie is just all over the place. It’s trying to do so many things at once, all while attempting to set up the larger Dark Universe, and it just can’t seem to get any one of these things right. It’s basically this year’s Batman v Superman, but worse. As terrible as that one was, at least it had some artistic merit thanks to Zack Snyder’s skilled visuals. The Mummy, on the other hand, has almost no redeeming qualities, and the Dark Universe is off to a terrible start yet again. (I haven’t forgotten about you, Dracula Untold!)
I’m hesitant to even try to begin explaining its cockamamie plot, but the story goes that Nick Morton, an arrogant and selfish soldier of fortune, discovers a mysterious underground tomb in the desert. With the help of some friends, he uncovers a unique, ancient Egyptian sarcophagus, and in doing so, he is “chosen” by the mummy inside of it. That mummy is a former Egyptian princess by the name of Ahmanet, who upon escaping her tomb, wants to use Nick to complete a ritual that would transform him into the monstrous God of Death, known as Set. Should she succeed, Ahmanet would use him to help her take over the world.
The film’s story is convoluted, incoherent, and filled with far too much exposition. I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface in describing it, but it just gets more nonsensical the deeper you go. Then, to top things off, it tries in the last moments to turn the movie into a tragic love story. Give me a break! There’s not an ounce of romantic chemistry in the film, but they’re going to give it a Tom Cruise love story spin? Had it been properly set up, I think it could have worked well enough, but to just needlessly tack it in at the end feels cheap and insulting to the audience’s intelligence. Yet even that’s not quite as atrocious as The Mummy’s pitiful attempts at humor. It seems as though Universal thought they could inject a little comedy into this dark story with Jake Johnson’s character. I won’t go into details, but their approach doesn’t work whatsoever. It feels completely out of place, and Johnson’s ghastly character is completely cringe-worthy.
That’s not to say the entire cast was bad, and it’s not even a knock against Jake Johnson as a comedian, but rather the dreadfulness of his character. Frankly, I usually like the guy, but I hate what they’ve done with him here. In fact, none of the acting in The Mummy is particularly terrible, but it’s really the least of the film’s problems. Tom Cruise still manages to be pretty entertaining, but I wasn’t buying his character arc at all. Sofia Boutella has some decent moments as Ahmanet, and I actually enjoyed her character’s origin story, but she’s transformed into a shallow, forgettable villain. Russell Crowe’s given little to do other than to give us endless, uninteresting exposition, and Annabelle Wallis just feels like she’s trapped along for the ride. The actors are given so little substance to work with and the plot is so borderline stupid that I can’t really fault any of them here.
There is a lot of questionable decision making that went into the production of this reboot, and it makes me wonder why they chose this direction in the first place. With a more minimalistic, character-driven approach, I think The Mummy could have fared much better. Instead we’re left with a bland, egregiously big budget film with lackluster special effects and a titular character that has no business even being compared to Universal’s classic movie monster. The only sliver of hope I can offer is that I somehow did like where the story ends, but I’m not going to pretend that I have any sense of excitement for the eventual sequel. How the Dark Universe can recover from here is anyone’s guess. They have an impressive cast lined up for their other monster movies but unless they try a different approach, this universe is going to end almost as soon as it began.
5 Minute Movie Guy