Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Review of "The Mummy"

"It was awesome. They've been wanting to work together for 20 years and they're good friends and the right movie just never came along and then ours did". From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, "The Mummy" brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.

THE MUMMY isn't a remake of the '30s Boris Karloff version, the '50s Peter Cushing edition or the '90s/'00s trilogy starring Brendan Fraser.

"The Mummy" also tries its hand at humor, but let's just say that Kurtzman isn't able to direct the humor of Tom Cruise like Doug Liman or Christopher McQuarrie.

Fortunately or not, we don't need to rely on Nick's visions to understand what's going on, because The Mummy begins with a boatload of exposition recounting Ahmanet's history, including why an Egyptian princess is buried in what's now Iraq.

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As for the story, it's a mummy movie, so there's no reason for it to be overly complicated.

After an energetic gun battle, Nick's glib partner-in-looting, Vail (Jake Johnson, saddled with the thankless role of comic relief in a consistently unfunny movie), calls in an air strike to save their butts, and the resulting bomb opens up a tomb which contains you-know-who.

Nothing quite comes together in this insane mix of action, jokes, ancient curses and the undead, and even Tom Cruise's star power can't glue the thing together. Ahmanet resurrects all sorts of freshly and anciently dead minions - in one memorable sequence, a pack of them pursue Cruise through a flooded tomb in London.

His thieving ways lead him to steal a map from the lovely Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis). When insurgents get in the way of that search, an explosive USA military strike opens up the final resting tomb of a murderous Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella from "Kingsman: The Secret Service)" whose backstory we learn in a well-executed and spooky-looking opening sequence. Oh, and Russell Crowe drops in as Dr. Henry Jekyll-yes, that Dr. Jekyll.

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The general fizzling out of the story is extra-disappointing because The Mummy gets off to a promising start. Scary is great, but a little heart would have really helped. When she sucks the life out of those who cross her path, the looks of those victims are gnarly. Even its more action-friendly adventure elements are too similar to what we have seen in films like the Indiana Jones series.

While The Mummy features a couple of interesting ideas that could form a solid foundation for a franchise, they never come together in a totally satisfying way to tell this story. Russel Crowe's Dr. Jeckel / Mr Hyde plays well, but we don't get enough of him. The organization is pretty cool. But as soon as the action ramps up, Nick morphs into Cruise's traditional superhuman action hero who operates one step ahead of everyone around him. I was so glad I wasn't in the Zero G scene with the plane because they did that 64 times, up and down and up and down.

It's not necessarily a fault that Cruise is playing the same character he's been playing for more than 30 years, a collection of impulses held together with sunglasses and a smile.

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

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As for the supporting roles, Wallis is fine as the generic brainy blonde, though Crowe is weirdly under-used as Jekyll, especially considering his character is meant to be the linking factor between all the upcoming Dark Universe movies. The Mummy happens to be the beginning of this one. It's even enough of one to suggest the 2017 and 1999 movies exist in the same universe. The monsters move with an unsettling strangeness, the big action setpieces are nonsensical yet thrilling, and the effects are nearly a direct response to the CGI-heavy superhero blockbusters, working overtime to make it look like real actors are onscreen for all stunts at all times.

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