The Mummy: Well, That’s One Way to Kill a Cinematic Universe Before It Starts

So that was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever seen. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration because I did sit through Dumb and Dumber To, which made me want to drink bleach, but at least that hot garbage wasn’t trying to kick off a “cinematic universe.” I’ll have more thoughts on that in a moment, but let’s talk about the plot of The Mummy first (I use “plot” loosely here).

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier-turned-thief—I’m sorry, a “liberator” of antiquities—who along with his buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) uses the cover of a military operation in Iraq to loot the ancient Mesopotamian site of “Haram,” which he finds using a map he stole from archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) during a one-night stand. I have to pause here for a moment because HOW IS THIS FINE. This dude is using military resources to disobey his commanding officer and steal historic artifacts from another country? That would get any character who isn’t played by Tom Cruise shit-canned. But sure, Jack Reacher, you do you.

Unfortunately, Nick, Chris, and Jenny stumble upon the ancient tomb of Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was buried alive after killing her father and brother and trying to raise Set, god of death, in human form. And since everyone in this movie is a moron who learned nothing from tomb explorations of the 1920s and ‘30s—when archaeologists and treasure hunters died from booby traps, ancient diseases, and curses—everything goes to hell, and they release Ahmanet, who plans to use Nick for Set’s human form. Oh, yeah, and Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) shows up to deliver boring exposition about monsters and ancient evil to set up Universal’s cinematic monster universe, a.k.a. Dark Universe.

Tom Cruise in The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy’s biggest problem is that it shouldn’t exist. Its second biggest problem, though, is its writers couldn’t figure out what tone they were going for, so it feels like five movies in one.

It starts out with a National Treasure-esque story featuring the Knights Templar and ancient Egypt—a relationship that’s never truly explained, so that’s fun. Then, it switches to a buddy-comedy about two treasure hunters (which, to be honest, is what the movie should’ve stuck with since Cruise and Johnson have weirdly good chemistry). Then, it becomes a monster movie about an evil mummy who can raise the dead as zombies (and apparently wants to bone Tom Cruise because it’s written in his contract that he must be attractive to every woman he meets). Then, it goes full An American Werewolf in London with Nick talking to a dead Chris in what’s basically a nudge-nudge for the writers who think their movie references are clever. Then, it turns into a story about a secret organization dedicated to protecting the world from monsters like some kind of gothic Avengers. Then, it tries to sell a love story between Nick and Jenny, even though they have no passion whatsoever. That, and Nick gives off a sexist douchebag vibe (He actually delivers an “It’s not me, it’s you” line to Ahmanet).

There’s so much happening in this one movie that it’s like getting whiplash repeatedly for two hours. Except with actual whiplash, you get painkillers covered by health insurance. Combine that plot gobbledygook with dialogue that relies almost entirely on exposition, a mummy who doesn’t even get enough screen time to do some serious mummy shit (because f*** the title, I guess), and a writer-turned-director whose visual storytelling is so bad that even the words “mediocre” and “amateur” seem too understated. That’s The Mummy in a nutshell.

Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet in The Mummy (2017)

Regarding the so-called “Dark Universe” (which, by the way, is a property owned by Warner Bros and DC Comics, so good luck with that one, assholes)—this is why you don’t announce an entire “cinematic universe” before you get feedback from critics and audiences. The film’s budget was $125 million, and I highly doubt it will make that money back domestically (The foreign box office is their only hope). Like, come on, Universal! You guys have been making movies for how long? You wait until you get the money and the thumbs up before you greenlight a slew of films. YOU CAN’T HYPE A UNIVERSE IF THE HYPE AIN’T THERE, MY MANS.

*sigh* I’ll say something nice because it’s not like this is completely devoid of okayness. For example, Sofia Boutella, who plays Ahmanet, deserves so much better than this movie. She works the hell out of what little story, character development, and dialogue she has. And the scenes where she creepily crawls at her victims are pretty damn good (even if the jerks in charge made her a succubus, which is some straight-up gendered garbage). And the stunt work and effects are of blockbuster quality. But that’s it. That’s all I’ve got for praise, guys.

Anyway, go back and watch The Mummy and The Mummy Returns starring Brendan Fraser instead of this movie. Those movies might be cheesy, and their special effects may be outdated now, but at least those films were an Indiana Jones-like, adventure-filled romp through Egypt rather than a movie that showcases how fast Tom Cruise runs…again.

The Mummy: C-

Listen to my review of The Mummy on “Pat & JT in the Morning” here.

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