The Mummy (2017)


The Mummy  (2017)    Universal/Action-Horror    RT: 110 minutes    Rated PG-13 (violence, action and scary images, some suggestive content, partial nudity)    Director: Alex Kurtzman    Screenplay: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman    Music: Brian Tyler    Cinematography: Ben Seresin    Release date: June 9, 2017 (US)    Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe.


Rating: NO STARS!!!

 It took God six days to create the universe and only two hours for the makers of The Mummy to destroy the Dark Universe. Who’s the real miracle worker? The Mummy is Universal’s inaugural entry in a proposed series of reboots of the studio’s classic monster movies- e.g. Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.- but after what I just witnessed, I have a feeling we’ve seen the final entry. This movie is an incredible piece of crap! They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong even if it was intentional which it’s not. Everybody takes themselves way too seriously in this loud, murky, incomprehensible noisefest. It’s not even a fraction of the fun of the Brendan Fraser trilogy that mixed horror with Indiana Jones-like adventure. This new version of The Mummy tries to shoehorn huge action set-pieces into the horror and comes up short in every imaginable way. It’s a mess of a movie.

the-mummy-2017 Tom Cruise stars as soldier-for-hire/looter Nick Morton (“mort” as in muerte, get it?), an unscrupulous fellow we first meet engaging in battle with a bunch of Iraqi insurgents. It’s not for love of country but rather love of money. He and his partner Chris Vail (Johnson, New Girl) are searching for treasure using a map Nick stole from his former lover, archeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis, last month’s King Arthur). They end up discovering the tomb of Ahmanet (Boutella, Kingsman: The Secret Service), an Egyptian princess who’s been erased from historical records for treachery. It seems that she was heir to the throne of her father King Menehptre until his second wife bore him a son. Enraged, she sells her soul to the god of death Set and murders her entire family. For her crimes, she’s mummified alive and buried far away from Egypt which explains why she was unearthed in Iraq.

 Her sarcophagus is loaded on a plane to England and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Ahmanet takes possession of Chris who attempts to open the sarcophagus. When Nick shoots him dead, a huge wave of crows attacks the plane and it crashes but not before Nick saves Jenny’s life by giving her the only parachute. Everybody dies in the crash but Nick comes back to life in the morgue a day later. It seems that he’s now cursed and the princess wants to use his body as a vessel for Set who she plans to resurrect.

 What I just gave you is a basic outline of The Mummy. There are other plot points like a sacred dagger, a mass grave under London containing the bodies of Crusaders and Dr. Henry Jekyll (Crowe, Gladiator). He’s the head of some secret society that hunts down monsters and other supernatural threats. As it so happens, Jenny is one of his agents. Jekyll’s men bring Nick to his secret lair under the Natural History Museum in London where he reveals his plans for Nick. They’re not good. There’s a lot going on in The Mummy and yet it’s still boring. To misquote Shakespeare, it’s a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s also idiotic.

 Cruise gives his worse performance to date which is saying a lot; despite a handful of good performances (usually opposite veteran actors like Paul Newman and Jack Nicholson), he’s a very one-note actor who can’t stop playing the same cocky character he played in Top Gun more than 30 years ago. Tom, you’re 54 now, it’s time to grow up and play age-appropriate roles. I can accept him in the Mission Impossible movies for the same reason I accepted Charles Bronson in the last three Death Wish flicks. But as a soldier fighting in Iraq? Please! But it goes beyond age. His character type is a bad fit for a so-called horror movie. Wallis delivers an equally bad performance as the female-in-distress/love interest/secret anti-evil agent/archeologist/whatever. She’s mainly in the movie to be rescued by Nick time and time again. Her line readings are as stiff as starched boxer shorts. Boutella is wasted as Ahmanet but there’s a question of whether or not her “performance” qualifies as one since her character is mainly CGI. As for Crowe, he’s just in it for the paycheck. Like everybody else (on-screen AND in the theater), he doesn’t look like he’s having any fun.

 The CGI in The Mummy is terrible. These days, that’s par for the course. Summer movies have become these massive assault vehicles that try and do permanent damage to the senses. There’s a sequence in The Mummy where the princess creates a huge sandstorm that destroys half of London (the half not destroyed in last year’s London Has Fallen). It feels more like something out of a Michael Bay movie than a horror film. This movie is also very loud. And profoundly stupid. Some of the dialogue is just painful. At one point, Jenny tells Nick that they’ve angered the gods. I felt like shouting, “So have the writers!” Other choice lines include non-bon mots like “This isn’t a tomb, it’s a prison”, “The very essence of evil calls to you now” and “You have no idea what you have unleashed”. The writers even crib a line from Bride of Frankenstein when Jekyll tells Nick, “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.”

 The Mummy is bad in so many ways, it’s virtually impossible to list them all. The narrative is muddled and incoherent. The cinematography is dark and murky; at times, it’s hard to see what’s going on. This is bad because many scenes take place underground, in tombs and other badly lit places. There’s not a single original idea. The Mummy borrows from so many other better movies that one gets the impression the script was cut-and-paste rather than written. They even steal the dead friend coming back from the grave to offer advice bit from An American Werewolf in London. That would be Jake Johnson, a fine comic actor gone to waste in this horrible excuse for a movie. Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us) is credited as director but one gets the impression that he merely oversaw the mess on behalf of Universal execs. It’s so bad, it makes any Mummy movie starring Brendan Fraser look like a cinematic masterpiece, even the one with The Rock. Hell, it makes any of the Mexican-made Aztec Mummy movies from the 60s look good by comparison. The Mummy is easily and by far, the worst movie of the year (so far). On the upside, at least it took 2017 almost six months to drop its first “NO STARS!!!” movie. 

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