Millennia after being denied her fate, a betrayed Egyptian princess is back from the dead to take revenge. Determined to reclaim all that should have been hers, she unleashes terrors beyond human understanding.
Tom Cruise manages to stay fit at the age of 54 because he spends a lot of time running in his action movies. He also endures copious amounts of physical abuse, ranging from getting beaten up to thrown around; all for our viewing pleasure, while he gets a hefty paycheck in return. It's a fair trade for the most part - these are popcorn blockbusters that are mindless fun, and everyone is reasonably entertained. So it's hardly a shocker that Cruise ends up going through his tried and tested 'Mission Impossible' motions in ‘The Mummy’.
Unfortunately, the entertainment value in this franchise-building reboot is thinly spread, leaving you feeling deprived if not cheated. This is a shoddy stab at merging action, mythology, horror and comedy resulting in conflicting tonality. Even the occasionally surprising, massive set pieces with elements flying at you in 3D, are interspersed between two-dimensional characters who exist merely to cater to movie tropes.
Cruise’s protagonist is his version of a lovable rogue, in the same vein as Indiana Jones, making some seriously questionable decisions throughout the movie. Annabelle Wallis wanders around as the damsel-in-distress in need of constant rescuing. Russell Crowe hams it up as a Nick Fury-ish leader with ambiguous motives spewing campy exposition. There’s even the sidekick (Jack Johnson) whose weary sense of humour brings out eye-rolls, amongst even more exposition. If there’s one character your eyes will be glued to, it’s Sophia Boutella. Adequately mesmerising as Ahmanet a.k.a. the mummy, she transitions from a creepy, violent monster to a seductive goddess with ease, but her impact is reduced by the screen time devoted to convincing us of Cruise and Wallis’ love angle, even though that’s devoid of any chemistry.
There’s enough gruesome eye candy, and in-your-face action to enjoy in ‘The Mummy’ if you ignore the plot holes and frustrating characters. But the first entry in Universal Pictures’ monster franchise comes across as a desperate attempt by the studio to capitalise on Hollywood’s current world-building frenzy. The amount of effort taken to construct the inevitable sequels is staggering. Admittedly, there's been some intrigue since we saw the heavily photoshopped picture of Cruise, Boutella and Crowe alongside Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem promising a lot more from the ‘Dark Universe’. But in the absence of quality writing, gripping plots and characters to truly care about, perhaps some monsters are best left buried.