The Mummy movie review: This Tom Cruise-starrer neither scares, thrills nor entertains
Another reboot, another attempt at building a giant cinematic universe, and another bland, tedious misfire. This pattern feels like the story of the week nowadays with Hollywood obsessed with rendering the formula, and more often than not, failing spectacularly at it. This week’s casualty, The Mummy, is not just a bad movie — it is a scintillating demonstration of how mainstream blockbuster filmmaking has devolved over the years.
The 1999 film with Brendan Fraser was a classic for one simple reason — it was a giant horror film executed with self-aware schlocky comedy and never before seen visual effects. The original 1930s film was also famous for the same reason, minus the comedy. This new remake, directed by Alex Kurtzman, throws everything that made those two movies great under the bus and turns into a bland action movie with Tom Cruise. It neither scares, thrills or entertains — it just moves loudly from one set piece to another without an iota of charm or intelligence.
An unknown scientist (Russell Crowe) finds a medieval artifact in London, while a renegade bounty hunter Nick (Tom Cruise) along with his pal Chris (Jake Johnson) find another archaeological site housing the tomb of a Mummy. Frustratingly, there’s no mystery surrounding the tomb, because we’re already given the information, in Crowe’s snooze inducing voiceover, right in the opening scene, that the tomb belongs to a Princess named Ahmanet (Boutella) who tried to kill a bunch of people and was entombed, and that her escape would cause chaos. Already knowing this puts the audience three steps ahead of the protagonists, so it becomes a long slog for Cruise and gang to ultimately free the Mummy and wait for her to destroy buildings.
The biggest problem is not the fact that the film isn’t scary at all — it’s how rushed it feels when it comes to building the cinematic universe. There’s little mystery surrounding the identity of Crowe’s character — Dr Jeckyl — and there’s an unintentionally hilarious scene right in his intro just to prove that he too can become a monster. And after already playing that card so early the film never gives you a memorable version of Mr Hyde – the transformation from human to monster is almost negligible, which is strange considering how much CGI is thrown into the rest of the film.
At every turn the film continuously tries to establish future movies, without focusing on improving itself as one remarkable story. The titular character itself becomes an insipid bore as a result. Boutella is nice to look at but is never threatening the way Imhotep was in the 1999 movie, and her presence is further ruined by Mr Pahlaj Nihalani who adds a giant black censored blob over her body because she’s scantily clad. Crowe delivers the worst performance of his career, and Johnson appears as a ghost out of a stoner movie. There’s also a British scientist love interest (Annabelle Wallis) whose character is as exciting as a tax form.
The film also commits the grave mistake of wasting Cruise’s natural charisma by turning him into a set piece that neither adds nor subtracts from the story. It’s probably the first time his presence doesn’t make a lick of a difference to a film. Many have called it the worst Cruise film to date — I would bestow that honour to Cocktail, but this movie comes a very close second.