Universal 110 Minutes PG-13
Universal is raiding its own film vaults for ideas for how to compete with Marvel and DC superheroes by turning to it's legendary monsters. This Mummy re-boot is part of Universal's "Dark Universe" concept. Director Alex Kurtzman packs so many genres into his Mummy movie, it’s hard to track all the themes running through this mash-up.
Think action-adventure, animal-terror, mysticism, comedy, love triangle, monsters, gore, zombies, evil-medical-experiments, and heist flicks. They're all here, but none of them are done exceptionally well. Looks like we can expect to see The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, his Bride, Wolf Man and Invisible Man all slated to come through this frightening pipeline.
In this imagining of The Mummy Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a kind of anti-hero soldier of fortune. He and his wacky sidekick Jake Johnson (Chris Vail) steal ancient artifacts while also working for the US Army. They find themselves in the middle of a firefight with Iraqi insurgents. When a bomb dropped from a drone unearths an ancient tomb, the plot is set in motion. A beautiful archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) shows up to interpret the meaning of the find. Oh, and she also just shared a bed with Nick.
At 54, Tom Cruise gets to remind his fans he's still got it. Cruise plays to his strengths with lots of physical action, a smart-ass attitude and a few shirtless scenes showing his still ripped abs. Annabelle Wallis is a contemporary female lead. She’s no damsel in distress, but smart, brave and up to the fight just like the men. And she’s a knock out.
The tomb found in the desert is transported to London for study. It holds an ancient Egyptian princess, Pharaoh's daughter Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who was sentenced to an eternity of pain for plotting against her family for power. She latches on to Nick as her kindred spirit and wants him to become a god…of the dead. Doesn’t sound like a great job description to Nick. Boutella is pretty limber for being 3,000 years old. She wears her wrapping well and at times is pretty scary. Director Kurtzman says she was hesitant about the detailed design of her makeup because she had just come off another film that had a long process. But it gives her the exotic ancient look she needed and she wears it well.
Then there’s Russell Crowe who comes aboard as the ultimate arbiter of evil, Dr. Jekyll. He verges on taking his transformation into Mr. Hyde comically over the top, but he handles the duality with both humor and intense violence. Crowe’s appearance here is a built in promo for his own movie in the works at The Dark Universe.
Director/Writer Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek Into Darkness, Amazing Spider Man 2) built some immense, impressive sets, but it’s the CGI effects that put a huge crew to work on this movie that took $125 million to make. His improbable script has the action segueing from the sands of Iraq to the tunnels under London. Music has always been an integral element of creating tension and terror on film going all the way back to Boris Karlov’s original 1930’s Mummy. It’s just as true in 2017 with Brian Tyler’s score that is full blown and very dramatic.
The most memorable stunt comes in the first third of The Mummy. Cruise says when Kurzman wrote in a plane crash he asked to stage it in Zero-G, something he’s always wanted to do on film. This anti-gravity scene exemplifies the essence of Tom Cruise’s career. It’s an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, death defying sequence that grips the audience.
While this is the first of the Dark Universe offerings, it’s really a Tom Cruise movie. Even though there’s mystical magic and even a love triangle including a blonde and a hieroglyphic tattooed brunette, the spotlight still shines on Tom.