THE MUMMY (2017)
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari
MPAA Rating: (for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity)
Running Time: 1:50
Release Date: 6/9/17
Review by Mark Dujsik | June 8, 2017
Hiding away somewhere in The Mummy, there's a scary, funny, and imaginative—in another word, decent—movie about an undead, ancient Egyptian princess wreaking terror on the modern world. That's basically what we get for the entirety of the movie's first act, which sets up all of the necessary pieces for the movie we come to expect.
We have a cursed Egyptian princess, whose terrible deeds and even more terrible fate are detailed in the prologue. We're introduced to a rapscallion of a hero with a devil-may-care attitude, an unquenchable desire for adventure, and the moral center of a cockroach. His comic relief of a sidekick is right there by his side, naturally, and a woman shows up to try to put them on the right path.
There's plenty of action and tomb-raiding, interrupted by an occasional one-liner. It's not groundbreaking by any means, but we can forgive that, because it's just the beginning of what seems to be an adventure with some promise.
Yes, everything is here, and the screenplay (written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman) throws everything for a loop—figuratively and literally—with a rather terrifying plane crash, which sends our hero and his companions spinning in the sky and spiraling toward the ground, as Alex Kurtzman keeps his camera planted firmly with the protagonist's face in the foreground and the fast-approaching ground in the background of the frame.
Let's backtrack, though, because it's easy to get caught up in the momentum of that sequence (It's quite good, simply for the chaos and fear factors). The hero is Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), who's either part of or working with the U.S. Army in Iraq. His sidekick is Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), and while the two are supposed to be tracking enemy insurgents ahead of the Army's advance, they're actually plundering ancient artifacts—before letting the enemy destroy the evidence of their thievery.
They come across an Egyptian tomb that shouldn't be in this place. This is of great interest to Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), who works for a mysterious organization (You'd better believe there's more on that later). It's the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who appears in the prologue as the heir to the throne of Egypt. When the pharaoh fathered a male heir, she made a pact with the god of the dead, killed her family, and was buried alive for her crimes.
All of this goes as one might expect. The sarcophagus that the team recovers from the tomb contains Ahmanet's not-quite-dead body. After the plane crashes in England, it turns out that Morton is also not-quite-dead. He, too, has been cursed, which makes him of special interest to Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), the man in charge of that mysterious organization.
Here's where things go completely off the rails. As it turns out, the first third of the movie is the encouraging setup to an action-focused, comically minded, and occasionally horrific adventure about a resurrected mummy, and the final third is the generic climax of that story, complete with lots of computer-generated destruction and zombie-like creatures (including Crusaders from the 12th century, about whom it's best not to ask).
What is the middle third? Well, it's a lengthy bit of self-aware mythology-making that puts a complete halt to the mummy movie (The supernatural villain is chained up for the whole of the second act). See, it turns out that this is supposed to be the first entry in one of those expanded universes that have become all the rage at the moment, in which a collection of associated characters are tied together across a franchise of movies (At the start, the studio logo rotates to reveal the brand's name "Dark Universe"). Hence, we get an extended section of unrelated story in which Dr. Jekyll (along with his monstrous alter-ego Eddie Hyde) explains how the story of Morton and the mummy mean very little in the grand scheme of a world filled with other monsters.
The problems should be obvious. It's not only because the movie itself is arguing that the movie is kind of pointless. It's also because this is a prime example of bait-and-switch advertising. The movie promises a mummy, and we're here for one. Half of the mummy parts of The Mummy work, and the other half is pretty bland. The rest of this is a cheap, old-fashioned act of shilling, saying we should ignore what we're watching—while we're watching it—and, instead, look forward to the next thing. If the first installment of a planned franchise can't even trust itself on its own merits, why should we care about the prospects of that franchise?
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
Buy Related Products