Where does one even begin in dismantling any far-fetched high hopes for a quality reboot (sort of, but more on that soon) of The Mummy with Tom Cruise? First off, Cruise at this point is really more of an onscreen presence than actual thespian. Rather than sink his teeth into anything, Cruise remains content to sprint towards things or away from things and make silly quips and one-liners while doing his best to not look as short as he actually is next to his leading ladies.
Here Cruise plays Nick Morton, an American solider of some kind who, along with his reluctant cohort Vail (New Girl's Jake Johnson), disregards orders to traipse around the Middle East stealing artifacts to sell on the black market. It's absurd—and not in a fun, Indiana Jones kind of way because at least Indy was all like, "It belongs in a museum!" It's more like, Cruise-isn't-as-charming-as-he-thinks-and-who-the-hell-decided-to-try-and-inject humor-into-this-movie kind of way. During a routine theft attempt in Iraq, Nick and Vail unwittingly discover the ancient tomb (or is it?!) of an Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) who was buried alive for making a deal with the god Set so she could be all kinds of powerful. Wouldn't you know it, though—they awaken her, she's pissed and she's gonna give Set Nick's body so he can have dominion over life and death which, frankly, doesn't sound all bad to us.
Along for the ride is a beautiful archaeologist named Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis) with whom Nick shares one of those oh-so-playfully combative relationships (but they probably care deeply about each other). Jen has secrets of her own, though, like how she works for Russell Crowe who—twist!—plays Dr. Jekyll. Yes, yes—that Dr. Jekyll. See, Universal Studios is clearly telegraphing a return to their monster movie stable of yesteryear, and with sly nods to properties like the Creature from the Black Lagoon and vampires and stuff, it becomes clear to film fans (read: people of a certain age) that there's plenty more where this came from whether we like it or not.
The exposition becomes downright gratuitous at a certain point, and it isn't long before we realize we've just been watching running punctuated by a few face-punches, and whatever light elements of Egyptology may have made it through seem squandered to a fault. No, this film is not as goofy-fun as the 1999 Brendan Fraser romp, and even far-superior CGI and a lack of The Rock don't make up for a dragging plot, god-awful writing and another forgettable turn from Cruise. Killing time? Knock yourselves out. Looking for something even slightly good? Move on.
+ I mean, it's people fighting mummies
- Are we really not sick of Tom Cruise yet?
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Directed by Alex Kurtzman
With Cruise, Wallis, Boutella, Johnson
Regal, Violet Crown, PG-13, 110 min.