Dan's Review: "The Mummy" wrapped up in a larger universe
Tom Cruise in The Mummy - © 2017 Universal Pictures.
The Mummy (Universal)
Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity.
Starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Russell Crowe, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Javier Botet, Selva Rasalingam, Dylan Smith, Rez Kempton, Chasty Ballesteros.
Written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet.
Directed by Alex Kurtzman.
The rise of cinematic “universes” seems to be vogue of late, with the established Marvel/Avengers series leading the way to great fame and riches for all involved. DC has been trying to get the ball rolling (and may yet, with the success of Wonder Woman), so why not others? With the comic book world having been mined to extremes, Universal Studios did not want to miss out, so they have launched “Dark Universe” with a series of movies based on classic Universal horror films (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, etc.). The first film in the newly created cinematic universe is a reboot of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise (Warner Bros. is trying a similar tact with “MonsterVerse,” tying King Kong and Godzilla to other gigantic monster classic movies together).
Cruise plays Nick, a rogue U.S. Military reconnaissance soldier who is known to hunt for contraband treasure. While searching for one such treasure in Iraq, he and his partner Sgt. Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) uncover the lost tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an evil woman who killed her family and was buried alive more than a thousand years ago for her crimes. Ahmanet had tried to harness the evil power of Set, the God of Death before she was interrupted during a ritual that involved killing her lover with a magic dagger that would have given her immortality. After the discovery of Ahmanet’s tomb, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an archeologist with a romantic connection to Nick shows up and takes over the dig site, with the help of a military attachment. Ahmanet’s sarcophagus is lifted from the underground tomb and flown back to England, where Jenny intends to deliver it to her mysterious leader (Russell Crowe), who happens to have a very familiar name (no spoilers) associated with a very classic horror tale. The group (led by Crowe’s character) is devoted to hunting down supernatural threats. Before they get to London, the cargo plane is attacked by a flock of black birds and crashes near an old English monastery. Jenny is apparently the only survivor of the crash, having been fitted with the only available parachute by Nick as the plane went down. A cursed Nick, who just prior to the crash was having romantic and creepy visions of Ahmanet and was forced to kill his pal Sgt. Vail - miraculously survives the crash without a scratch. He continues to have visions of Ahmanet as Jenny tries to get him back her mysterious leader for evaluation. Meanwhile, a weakened Ahmanet emerges from the wreckage and gains new life as she sucks the life out of human victims, turning them into zombie-like mummies at her command. Jenny’s group eventually captures Ahmanet, and also plans drastic measures to rid Nick of his curse, but not before the Mummy escapes and chases Nick and Jenny down inside an old underground Crusader crypt beneath London. Nick must fight the curse within or become the means by which Ahmanet gains ultimate control over the world.
The Mummy is a somewhat enjoyable, yet enigmatic movie experience, as it becomes apparent early on that the main character is only part of a bigger cinematic universe. It’s a little cumbersome to fathom all the “monster” associations and possibilities ahead for “Dark Universe.” Such distractions get in the way of the story, which is indeed dark and full of violent outcomes for a lot of people. Despite such diversions, there is plenty of action, along with some humor, an adequate performance from Cruise and relatively clever dialogue to pique some interest.
I don’t know if The Mummy was the right choice to launch the “Dark Universe,” but I suppose you have to start somewhere (Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie have apparently been linked to the next films).
I know it’s a lot to keep up with, but I hope that any studio trying to launch a cinematic universe can be devoted to good stories and likable characters before they get too focused on the big picture. Marvel’s success was not founded on the grand plan, but on great characters and excellent casting.
The Mummy Trailer