The first step in building a new cinematic universe; The Mummy has a heavy weight to bear. Balancing horror, adventure, action, comedy and romance is a hard enough task but the burden of a franchise Is what finally broke this film, taking away the chance for brainless fun or cult status through endless exposition and foreshadowing.
A film with an agenda, making Tom Cruise the core of the new Dark Universe is one of the central flaws with The Mummy, becoming simply setup for Cruise and in many ways losing its identity, more a supernatural themed mission impossible than a true universal reboot. Cruise brings his usual energy but a younger, more fresh talent would have given the film more room to breathe and grow; perhaps even Jake Johnson, the standout for me but relegated to a smaller, supporting role. The scenes between the two actors, an homage to ‘An American Werewolf in London,’ are perhaps the most comedic and compelling of the film; their chemistry standing out amongst the tired romance and obvious story beats.
From the opening moments, the main problems of the film become clear with unnecessary and repeated exposition being delivered to the audience in a forced and derogatory manner. While Sofia Boutella’s new female monster Ahmanet is a fresh twist on the classic mummy, her presence never brings real fear or threat; the few strong horror sequences being dragged down by the surrounding shadow of a ‘bigger threat,’ making the titular mummy but a pawn, only a small piece of this new cinematic puzzle and removing a lot of tension. The Nick Fury of this universe, Dr Henry Jekyll, was my most despised element of the film; a character whose only purpose is to spout trailer talk and link the films together – Russell Crowes painfully forced performance didn’t help of course. Even the visuals are bland and generic, failing to create an iconic image for the new monster and feeling more akin to a straight to a DVD film. The few sparks of originality and self-awareness offer some merit but the smile on my face would quickly be erased by another scene of foreshadowing.
The Mummy had potential. If made with the same lightheartedness as the 1999 reboot it could have at least been an enjoyable slice of cinematic cheese but the aesthetics and world building of the new ‘Dark’ Universe keep it dull and forgettable; another misstep in recreating the marvel formula.