In 2014, Universal Pictures attempted to launch their Dark Universe (the name of their Universal Monsters cinematic universe) with Dracula Untold. Unfortunately, the movie received mixed reviews and was underwhelming at the box office. Fast forward three years and Universal is once again trying to launch the Dark Universe with The Mummy. But unlike Dracula Untold, which had its moments, The Mummy, on the other hand, takes poorly setting up a cinematic universe to a whole new level. Bad in almost every facet, it makes you wonder if Universal should just scrap this Dark Universe altogether and save other A-list actors (Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp) from wasting their time with it. By the time the credits roll for The Mummy, you’ll be yearning for another Brendan Fraser-starring Mummy movie instead of where this Dark Universe goes next. Tonally all over the place mixed together with a humdrum story and exhaustive CGI, The Mummy is a conglomerate mess from start to finish.
Nick Morton is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet, a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.
Although credited with six writers, it is painfully obvious that no one had a clue how to write this Mummy. One minute, it’s an action movie, the next, it’s a comedy. And finally, it tries to be a horror movie. When The Mummy attempts to be one of these three genres, it falls flat on its face almost every time. The action isn’t exciting, the comedy is mostly unfunny, and the horror is nonexistent. I mean, isn’t the point of making a Universal Monsters movie, and what made them so memorable decades ago, to provide the audience with scary fun? Well, that’s nowhere to be found here, as the movie is as lifeless as its evil dead corpse.
From the beginning with the origin of the Mummy herself, told through a couple of flashback scenes, The Mummy never slows down, as it rushes from scene to scene. With everything happening so fast, the plot holes quickly begin to open up. How did they find the Mummy? Why was the Mummy resurrected? Exactly how did the Mummy go about choosing her soulmate? How can the Mummy be stopped? And why is there an unnecessary love interest that only chews up screen time? Oh, and let’s not forget about the twist in The Mummy, which makes little sense and only raises more questions once the movie ends. All of these plot points are shown at such a fast pace that they feel irrelevant and point to the fact that the movie’s sole purpose is to set up the Dark Universe. Mixed in the middle of all of these bad story decisions is the movie’s CGI, which is painstakingly bad to watch at times. One scene involving a sand storm in London is one of the worst visually-created scenes in recent memory.
Stuck in the middle of this disaster is Tom Cruise. The Mummy is Cruise’s worst movie in years and could wind up being known as his worst movie ever when he retires from acting. Given how Cruise is one of the best action stars to ever grace screens, it’s unfortunate that his character in The Mummy, Nick Morton, is meaningless and poorly written. Cruise’s touch of charm and the skill he displays in action movies by doing his own stunts, can’t overcome the burden from his character’s lack of depth or purpose in The Mummy. He’s just a treasure hunter who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A couple of things keep The Mummy from being a zero-rated movie. Russell Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, who runs an organization called Prodigium, which is responsible for tracking the monsters. Crowe’s organization will be present in all the Dark Universe movies (if this cinematic universe still goes forward), as Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll will essentially be playing a Nick Fury-like character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While The Mummy might be lifeless, I got a kick out of watching Crowe portray the infamous Dr. Jekyll in the little screen time he was granted. The only good scene from start to finish involves a confrontation between Dr. Jekyll and Morton, which made me want to see a standalone Russell Crowe-led Dr. Jekyll movie. Another bright side (I guess) to the Mummy is the Mummy herself, played by Sofia Boutella. Even though her performance may be practically wasted by the movie’s end, she certainly makes the most with what she’s given here and solidifies herself as an action movie star (she was great in Kingsman: The Secret Service).
When I was growing up I watched the 1999 version of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser countless times. It had the perfect blend of action, humor, and horror; it was summer blockbuster at its finest and cheesiest. Heck, the bugs in the Fraser-led Mummy frightened me for months. Instead of this updated take on the Mummy, maybe Universal instead should have made another Fraser-starring Mummy sequel that introduced us to this Dark Universe (Maybe The Mummy: Dark Universe?). At least it would have been more fun and creative than what the six writers for this Mummy tried to conjure up. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, go see Wonder Woman if you haven’t already or buy the 1999 version of The Mummy on Blu-ray. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a much better time than watching this mumbo jumbo.