The Mummy is one of the worst movies of the year. It is a colossal miscalculation, a foolhardy idea from the beginning that somehow degenerates down the evolution ladder till it resembles a pile of gooey protoplasm no living being would dare go near. It is a monster movie with pathetic monsters and action heroes who look like supermodels. It has an A-list cast but treats them like B-grade drama students. That Tom Cruise is the star is no guarantee of quality; he is so detached from this debacle I’m surprised the film holds itself together at all. Goodness gracious, what an uncomfortable experience.
This is a movie that is flawed at its core. Never mind the plot, which makes no sense. Its technical skill is subpar. Night scenes are so dim and grey it’s almost impossible to make out who or what is on the screen. The editing dips in and out of sanity. There are flashbacks and flashforwards, hallucinations and all manner of visual techniques, but they’re never harmonised into a fluid sequence of events. If you can’t get the basics right, it won’t matter how great your story is. Your film needs to function before it can work.
The plot, such as it is, involves gods and princesses, sinister pacts and woeful vengeance. Although, since said vengeance is carried out by the princess in an opening flashback to Ancient Egypt, where she kills the pharaoh and his infant heir to ascend the throne, I have no idea why she returns some five thousand years later with unfinished business. What’s her motive now? Does she expect to find the throne still waiting for her? Why does she have four irises? And how, for that matter, did she even know she’d be awakened as a living corpse? I found it amusing that despite missing thousands of years of technological advancement, not once does she stop to admire a car.
Cruise plays Nick Morton, a tomb raider who looks exactly like Ethan Hunt on vacation. Nick discovers the tomb of the princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and immediately thinks of profit. His old flame Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), however, believes the body is worth more to science than to Nick’s bank account. The sarcophagus is loaded onto a military plane. The plane is brought down by a murder of crows (ha ha). Nick and Jenny tumble about the fuselage as if on dry spin. The sarcophagus crashes. Ahmanet creaks and contorts out of her coffin. People die, and Nick has to put Ahmanet back. That, my friends, is the movie. Oh, and for some reason Russell Crowe makes an appearance as Doctor Jekyll. Yes, that Doctor Jekyll.
So what’s happening here is a setup for a shared universe in which Universal plans to revive all its classic monsters. We can no doubt expect new movies based on the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, and maybe even Dracula. The Mummy is an inauspicious way to kick things off. It is lazy and visually confusing. I enjoyed the older Mummy movies, with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, because they knew they were outrageous and behaved accordingly. This one, directed by Alex Kurtzman, is just as outrageous but is in desperate need of a behavioural therapist. It’s in danger of acting out.