Movie Review: The Mummy

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A pair of tomb raiders exploiting their position as soldiers in war-torn Iraq accidentally unleash an ancient evil upon the world.

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Alex Kurtzman, 2017

Cocky thief and soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) uses his job in Iraq to find and sell antiquities. When he and his buddy Vail (Jake Johnson) head into an Iraqi village to “liberate” it, they accidentally uncover something unusual: an Egyptian mummy’s tomb, obviously out of place in the Iraqi desert. Archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) is called in to oversee the exploration of the tomb, but instead ends up overseeing Morton’s reckless behaviour as he unintentionally releases evil mummy princess Amanet (Sofia Boutella) from her tomb. As they try to escape, Morton discovers that in releasing Amanet, he has become bound to her by a curse. His only help for salvation comes from a shadowy organisation led by the mysterious Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe).

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I think I gave myself a headache attempting to recount the plot of The Mummy. It’s a feat that seems easy on paper, but this new take on the Hammer Horror classic is such a baffling and unnecessarily complicated affair that following its twists and turns takes so many voiceovers and scenes purely containing expository dialogue that it’s hard to follow along. “Where’s your sense of adventure?” crows Cruises’ Nick Morton, daring us to keep up with him as he power runs his way through this absolute hot mess of a film. Despite some fun action scenes and set pieces, The Mummy is a mostly stolid, joyless affair. It lacks the fun, adventuring spirit or the atmospheric creepiness of its predecessors. Trying to pull together way too many disparate storylines and with a wildly out of place modern setting, The Mummy ends up trying its audience’s patience as it plods from one dreary cliche to another. Its attempts to get a new cinematic universe off the ground are muddled; while there’s something interesting about Dr. Jekyll’s strange secretive organisation, its inclusion in this movie feels forced.

As ridiculous and confusing as The Mummy is, there are things to like here. Sofia Boutella’s Amanet appears to be the character someone came up with after seeing the far superior 1999 The Mummy and thinking “Anck-Su-Namun is cool, why don’t we make a movie about her?” Despite her gross and unnecessarily excessive sexualisation, Amanet is an antagonist who is both fearsome and sympathetic, and whose makeup is brilliant. Watching her bat Cruise around like a rag doll has it charms as well. Also surprisingly good here is Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde performance. He’s intimidating and not overly sympathetic but still somehow fascinating, dominating the screen whenever he’s on it. The two of them far overshadow the typical workmanlike performance from Cruise, whose Morton is so unsympathetic as to be downright detestable, and the wildly forgettable Annabelle Wallis, who could be any blonde British actress in her thirties and it wouldn’t make a difference. Jake Johnson is misused here as well, not genial enough to make his funny sidekick character work despite some good ideas. That’s a theme for this film; it’s full of good ideas poorly executed.

The Mummy on IMDb

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