Kernel Rating (out of 5): (2 out of 5)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 110 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. This reboot of ‘The Mummy’ plays out more like a zombie movie than a classic monster flick, with a variety of violence and action sequences: the primary villain murders her father, her stepmother, and her baby brother; there’s a pretty jarring plane crash caused by homicidal birds and a car crash; people get their life force sucked out of them and they turn undead; people are shot, stabbed, and exploded; and there are numerous monsters and characters that will scare younger viewers. Some infrequent cursing, jokes and discussions about sex, and implied nudity and sex scenes.
The reboot of ‘The Mummy’ is a whole mish-mash of nothing. It’s loud, it’s action-packed, and it’s full of Tom Cruise running, but barely anything about it is truly memorable.
By Roxana Hadadi
A few weeks ago, we saw the exhaustingly bad result of a movie franchise that has gone remarkably awry with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a film that was practically impossible to enjoy. The same goes for “The Mummy,” a reboot of the 1999 film that is supposed to be the first installment of a horror monster franchise. It is loud, it is frenetically paced, and it is mostly boring. It pales when compared with the goofily enjoyable 1999 version starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, and no amount of Tom Cruise running can fix that.
Universal Pictures wants “The Mummy” to drum up excitement for their new Dark Universe, which will feature Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster, and other classic baddies in upcoming films, but this movie isn’t going to do it. “The Mummy” has no sense of rhythm: The script isn’t particularly funny, the action sequences aren’t that exciting, and nothing important seems to happen. Cruise has very little to do. The female sidekick is infuriatingly underwritten. And the mummy herself—well, she screams a lot and throws sand around. That is basically it. You’ll never feel truly scared, and for the first movie in a horror franchise, that’s a bad omen.
“The Mummy” focuses on soldier-turned-thief Nick Morton (Cruise, of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”), whose job is to help the U.S. government protect ancient ruins and priceless artifacts from “insurgents” and whose real work is flipping some of those items on the black market. He cares only about himself and about adventure, but things take a turn for the very bad when he, along with partner Chris Vail (Jake Johnson, of “Jurassic World”) and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis, of “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”), stumble upon the tomb of an Egyptian princess in the Iraqi desert—some 1,000 miles away from where she should have been buried.
Convinced that this is a major find, Jenny, Chris, and Nick load the sarcophagus on a military cargo plane and fly away—only to crash land outside of London, inadvertently freeing the princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who had made an evil pact 5,000 years ago with the Egyptian god of the dead. With immense power and the ability to turn the living into zombies, Ahmanet has her eye on Nick—and when Jenny’s true allegiances are revealed, the question is whether she is going to help save Nick or use his connection to Ahmanet for more nefarious purposes.
There is a depressing disregard for any kind of creative or consistent storytelling in “The Mummy,” and it starts from the first few minutes of the film and continues onward. Ahmanet’s evil transformation needs a male lover to fully take hold, instead of letting her be a fully formed character in her own right. Nick and Chris can’t be bothered to know what Middle Eastern country they’re in, and the film uses “insurgents” as props. Halsey is identified as a PhD with a specialty in Egyptian culture, but at literally no point in the film does she have any opportunity to display her knowledge; all she does is, for some reason, give Nick pep talks about what a good guy he is. The zombies that Ahmanet creates vary from being super-fast to super-slow; there’s no uniformity in their depiction. On and on, a series of disconnected elements that make “The Mummy” a practice in tedium.
What is most frustrating, though, is the 20-minute break in the middle of the film where we suddenly learn about a secret organization searching for evil throughout the world. Russell Crowe pops by for a glorified cameo as Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Eddie Hyde, and the amount of exposition he unleashes on Cruise’s character is mind-numbing. But that framework—meant to introduce the Dark Universe to viewers—is so tenuously connected to “The Mummy” that you can sense Universal Pictures’s desperation. “If evil were a pathogen … there must surely be a cure,” Dr. Jekyll seriously tells Nick, and Cruise’s look of utter confusion will match your own.
Some of the jump scares are legitimately good, there’s a well-shot scene with underwater zombies chasing Nick, and Boutella has great physicality. But those are brief moments of respite from “The Mummy’s” overall mediocrity. Don’t get excited for the Dark Universe quite yet.
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