When I think back to the 1999 version of 'The Mummy’, my memory is of hiding behind a cushion, peering at the television, barely breathing as I watched the flesh eating scarabs which were enough to haunt any 8 year old’s dreams. It’s disappointing that this 2017 reboot holds none of the tension or terror of the Brendan Fraser film. This is, for sure, its biggest downfall.
Whilst searching for treasure in Iraq, Nick (Tom Cruise) and Chris (Jake Johnson) discover an ancient tomb. After discovering a sarcophagus under a lake of mercury they decide, along with Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), to transport it back to a research facility. They soon realise their mistake when their journey doesn’t quite go to plan and events begin to spiral out of control.
The biggest problem holding 'The Mummy' back is the writing, more specifically the dialogue. This film has some of the worst dialogue from any film in recent memory. When the dialogue isn’t just a chunk of exposition (here’s some things you need to know so listen as we tell them to you), it’s downright embarrassing. At one point whilst Nick is running at the mummy with a plank of wood Jenny barks, “Get her! Get her!” like his own personal cheerleader… it’s utterly bizarre! The dialogue isn’t helped at all by the fact that the actual story is completely uninteresting and at points illogical. The filmmakers don’t seem to have agreed on what kind of film they were making. Is it an action? A comedy? A monster movie? With this lack of a cohesive direction it appears that they tried all three at various points and this has resulted in a confusing mess.
There are some excellently executed action scenes but there’s nothing of any real substance to back it up, whether that be through narrative or character. The attempt at injecting humour falls flat at every single attempt. And, as for the monster portion - The Mummy seems completely uninterested in its own premise and the mummy herself, though excellently played by Sofia Boutella, feels like a minor character for most of the film.
In fact it’s Sofia Boutella that does the best job out of the entire cast. Tom Cruise doesn’t quite nail the ‘lovable rogue’ but we’re never really given any reason to like him or in fact think that he’s all that much of a rogue. Jake Johnson is cast as the humorous best friend but with zero successful attempts at humour. As for Annabelle Wallis’ character Jenny, her reactions were so out of proportion in comparison to the storyline and other characters, with a constant sense of strange self-entitlement. Russell Crowe's portrayal of Mr Hyde is certainly interesting. The performance is not necessarily ‘bad’ but doesn’t feel at all consistent in the universe that has been created and sticks out like a comical sore thumb. Every single person listed above has proven in the past that they are talented actors so it’s confusing as to why they took on these one dimensional roles.
The rest of the problems with The Mummy can pretty much boil down to this - consistency or lack thereof. The film takes too many awkward turns, the narrative seems so illogical and the tone shifts so often that it’s impossible to say what kind of a film you are watching. It’s a result of trying (and failing) to keep the humour from the 1999 film and trying to do something new, weighed down by a lack of clarity. All the while trying to set up the Dark Universe that Universal is so desperate to establish in order to combat the success of Marvel’s MCU.
Instead of a stong start to the Dark Universe, poor direction has resulted in an unentertaining mess, more concerned with the endless exposition required to set up future films than telling its own story. A story that isn’t all that clear or interesting to begin with.
As always this is just my opinion, what do you think? Have you seen The Mummy yet? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.
written by Bradley Allen