First, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy has nothing to do with Stephen Sommers’ 1999 Brendan Fraser-fueled blockbuster of the same title; let alone Karl Freund’s 1932 Boris Karloff-incited classic. Second, it has nothing to do with Mission Impossible, despite Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, and David Koepp’s involvement. Third, it, however, is a completely different film to mark a confident opening for Universal’s audacious Dark Universe, which sets to assemble the studio’s classic monster films into a whole new rebooted universe.
The Mummy does not take place in Egypt at all. It only begins in the ancient Egypt where Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was mummified alive, before shifts away to both Iraq and England. In England, mysterious catacombs of deceased Templar knights from the Crusade was found underground, inviting Dr. Henry Jekyll’s (Russell Crowe) grave attention. Meanwhile, soldiers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his comrade, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), along with an archaeologist, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) found a mystically guarded ancient tomb of Ahmanet.
From there, The Mummy ventures from the desert, juggling in M:I-stylized plane sequences, before heading back to Nick’s home country, where a big confrontation awaits. We won’t be surprised seeing an Egyptian mythical lore swarming Britain’s terrain with army of undeads or mind-controlled animals or face-shaped sandstorm. We won’t be surprised either that Tom Cruise does what Tom Cruise does in summer blockbusters – from car-chase, bullet-escaping, to underground pursuit.
What surprised most is the fact that Boutella’s titular monster is underused. She’s nothing but an ancient being, who surprisingly has capability to speak English in a heartbeat, to lust for Tom Cruise’ bare chest. Her backstory is even more compelling than her tenure as an anti-peace creature that sucks life. Boutella’s Ahmanet goes completely pale (literally and figuratively) in comparison with other mummy incarnations like Arnold Vosloo’s and Boris Karloff’s Imhotep.
Practically, once the mummy has risen as the plane sinking down, The Mummy sinks, too. The plot is muddled with the Dark Universe subplot and Cruise-Wallis romantic subplot, putting the Ahmanet’s chosen one trope away. The Mummy is also often staggering in bridging its intention to become a horror film or to fully embrace the action-packed spectacles. The result is, there’s an awkward space between them that makes the film a bit disjointed.
Surprisingly enough, Ahmanet’s charm is overshadowed by Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll. Not only that this character literally contains the Egyptian princess, but he also steals the show with his predetermined revelation. Also, Jekyll’s laboratory becomes the film’s best set-piece, which immediately reminds me to The Warrens’ Easter-Egg-laden museum in The Conjuring franchise. While his attempt to Nick Fury the Universal monsters is still at blurry point for the time being, his involvement in The Mummy sparks a little hope to the continuation of Dark Universe.
Started off a spectacle, promising a spectacle, and still look like a spectacle, The Mummy loses its mythical charm, ironically, right when the titular monster takes form, igniting a beleaguered Dark Universe.
The Mummy (2017)
Action, Adventure, Fantasy Directed by: Alex Kurtzman Written by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman Starred by: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe Runtime: 110 mins Rated PG-13