Released: 9th June 2017
Directed By: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe
Reviewed By: Van Connor
Looking back, most would agree that it was attempting to force the creation of their cinematic universe that gave Marvel their first (more or less) dud with Iron Man 2. It’s a lesson that – until recently – Warner Bros. failed to learn from with their attempts to get the DC Extended Universe up and running, and now it’s a problem for all to witness once more with Dark Universe-launcher The Mummy, a mostly serviceable remake that screeches to a grinding halt in the pursuit of the almighty shared universe concept.
More or less following – though, to be fair, successfully tweaking – the concept most recently perfected by Stephen Sommers in 1999, The Mummy 2K17 sees ancient Egyptian goddess Ahmanet brought back from the grave to the potential peril of our world. In keeping with the loveable rogue archetype last filled by Brendan Fraser, Tom Cruise takes the lead soldier and parttime treasure hunter Nick Morton, teaming up with headstrong archaeologist Jessica (Annabelle’s Annabelle Wallis) to try and thwart Ahmanet’s plans before she can use the freshly cursed Nick to summon the ancient god Set and ensure dominion over all is hers once and for all. All of which is notably secondary to the existence of Prodigium – a S.H.I.E.L.D.like organisation working behind the scenes to protect humanity and ensure the Dark Universe franchise goes on.
That’s no joke either. In a cynical manner not seen since X-Men: Apocalypse shut down its narrative to go and visit Wolverine for ten minutes, The Mummy legitimately stops dead in its tracks to toss in an action set-piece introduction for Russell Crowe’s Ray Winstone-inspired take on Mr. Hyde. You’d assume the three writers behind it – one being none other than screenwriting royalty David Koepp, of all people – were setting up some sort of clever homogenised conclusion for it all, and yet you’d be wrong. The Mummy instead simply lets this plot diversion fly, and it noticeably comes just as the film begins to rapidly deteriorate.
It’s a shame, frankly, as the initial set-up of the concept is rather a corker. Cruise is on wisecracking almost Knight And Dayesque form, Wallis plays like Cameron Diaz with the presence of Elizabeth Debicki, and Sofia Boutella’s Ahmanet is afforded infinitely more characterisation than Arnold Vosloo ever had. Prior to his Winstonian nonsense, Crowe too makes a serviceable enough addition to the cast, while New Girl breakout Jake Johnston sees history repeat itself, remaining under-utilised by yet another summer tentpole flick. They’re all let down by having only half a script though, an intriguing set-up establishing itself as a top shelf action-horror hybrid quickly giving way to a third act that makes literally no narrative sense to anyone who doesn’t follow The Hollywood Reporter on Twitter.
Writer Alex Kurtzman makes only his second cinematic effort behind the camera here, and – to his credit – he brings a decent amount of oomph to proceedings. Hell, he even manages to chuck in a couple of pretty solid jump scares. It’s rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic though, as a screenplay that really can’t settle between telling its own story and wanting to cast its net into franchise waters soon proves too much of a mess to keep the entertainment factor of it all anywhere near consistent. The Mummy draws to a close with the amped-up posturing that there’s more to come, but after a debut as incoherent as this, the real question becomes whether or not you’d be bothered about seeing any more.