The Mummy (15)
Running time 1hr 15min
SUMMER is upon us once again and boy, the heat’s already getting to this critic. With the exception of a choice few bright(er) spots (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman), the latest batch of ‘summer blockbusters’ (eww) has proven consistently subpar; while one must admire the studios’ zeal – as evidenced in the Baywatch remake, there’s very little they’re NOT ready to repackage and reboot. You’ve got to wonder how long they’re going to keep this up.
The Mummy, as a matter of fact, stands testament to this phenomenon – whoever’s behind the recent franchise overkill is, to say the least, clearly running out of good ideas.It’s supposed to be the first in the Dark Universe (eww) series, a ‘reimagining’ of Universal’s monster-mashes of yore (Wolfman, Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon movies, among others, are also in the pipeline, culminating, naturally, in an epic crossover). 1999’s Brendan Fraser-starring Mummy was agreeable fun, so this new effort at least the name recognition. It also has Tom Cruise… Yeah, that’s the rub. This isn’t, and isn’t intended to be, a horror movie, but it’s most definitely a run-of-the-mill-Tom-Cruise movie, right downto the vehicular stunts, corny globe-trotting, loud battles and CG excess. That, of course, is going to sell a few tickets here and there, but, to cut a long story short, a special effects budget the size of Egypt’s GDP is something we’ve come to expect of summer releases and it’s unlikely to keep anyone awake in the absence of an engaging script and original, exciting action.
At this basic level, The Mummy merely passes as a confused attempt to pile in that which every other mediocre actioner of the last three years has going for it. There’s an awful lot of World War Z-esque filler, with much of the drama unfolding in a hyper-idealised London. The ‘Mummy’ in question, owing to Hollywood’s newfound social consciousness, is Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a pharaohess interred alive for the greed-driven murder of her own family; while more female leads are always welcome, I highly doubt this role was crying out for any such treatment (a straight-up reprise of Boris Karloff’s classic character, of course, comes with its own set of risks).
Still, none of this, in itself, carries inevitable implications of futility and rottenness; it could have meant a bitesize, vaguely enjoyable trip to the picturehouse (and it certainly has the prerequisite star power – Russell Crowe pops up for a bit). What makes The Mummy so exceptionally missable, in a season of super-bores and fantastical duds, is its barefaced lack of sense and pacing. For a film running just over the 100-minute mark (actually short, as far as this kind of flick goes), it seems to last an eternity, and one of the creakiest screenplays of recent memory does nothing to help its case. There’s no hook, no real threat or peril; what there is is Tom Cruise skulking around various exotic locales, falling out of aircraft and getting into ‘hairy’ situations – in other words, a particularly putrid Mission Impossible instalment with supernatural elements. A Marvel-style update of the Universal Monsters franchise, silly and opportunistic as it might be, came off as a fairly interesting idea, yet The Mummy is dead-set upon laying the poorest possible foundations for such a long-term project.