MUMMY, THE (2017)


(director: Alex Kurtzman; screenwriters: Dylan Kussman/David Koepp/Christopher McQuarrie/story by Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet & Jon Spaihts; cinematographer: Ben Seresin; editor: Gina & Paul Hirsch/; music: Brian Tyler; cast: Tom Cruise (Nick Morton), Russell Crowe (Dr, Henry Jekyll), Annabelle Wallis(Jenny Halsey), Sofia Boutella (Ahmanet), Jake Johnson(Chris Vail), Courtney B. Vance (Colonel Greenway), Marwan Kenzari(Malik), Simon Atherton (Crusaders), Stephen Thompson (First Man); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Chris Morgan/Alex Kurtzman/Sarah Bradshaw/Sean Daniel; Universal Pictures; 2017)

A futile attempt by Universal to revisit its glorious monster past, in one of the sorriest Mummy versions ever.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A futile attempt by Universal to revisit its glorious monster past, in one of the sorriest Mummy versions ever (that includes the silly Brendan Fraser one in 1999). Alex Kurtzman (“People Like Us”/”Venom”) directs this schlocky reboot by throwing an assortment of themes against the wall to see if any stick. What sticks is how incoherent is the film. The Mummy role originated by Boris Karloff in 1932 is played by Algerian actress Sofia Boutella, who seems as dead as the mummy for most of the film but who comes to life as someone undead and we learn that a kiss from her can suck out your soul. The farfetched story by Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet and Jon Spaihts is weakly written by Dylan Kussman, David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie. It fails to make much sense, but even more so when it tries to make sense it makes less sense. The dark film also suffers from a miscast Tom Cruise, whose star power fails him because he’s really unlikable and filled with hubris in an Indiana Jones role that demanded likability. Also, the CGI images are overwhelming and reduce its storyline to seeming like a lightheaded video game without adding any psychological chilling moments to keep it entertaining. It’s also worth noting monster pictures are supposed to be fun, but this one was devoid of humor and only made things worse when it tried to be funny.The feisty British government archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) enlists treasure hunter American army adventurers in Iraq, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his wisecracking sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), to plunder whatever valuables they find from the ancient civilization as their unit takes part in killing insurgents during the war. After Nick steals Jenny’s map while making love, they meet again in the desert to unearth an Egyptian tomb from ancient Mesopotamia, buried in a sinkhole covered in mercury. When the looters findings are investigated in a London lab, they realize it’s the sarcophagus of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). She turns out to be an evil Princess, now set free, who killed her pharaoh father, her stepmother and baby brother when she learned he will be next in line to be the pharaoh and not her. The Princess thereby makes a revenge pact with the dark Egyptian god of chaos Set to sacrifice a lover, who was to become the god’s human embodiment until she was captured and “mummified alive.” The ceremonial dagger with which she intended to make the sacrifice was split into two parts, leaving its supernatural powers not working unless Princess Ahmanet can put the pieces together again with the red ruby attached in its place. The crux of the film is set in modern London, where the monster protector, the head of the secret organization Prodigium,Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), with a split Jekyll and Hyde personality, and Jenny’s boss, gets involved and the story goes off into too many messy tangents to care about. It includes the fore-mentioned dagger found during a tunnel dig in London, in a crypt dating back to the Second Crusade. The dagger gets into the hands of Jekyll, the caretaker of evil influences in the world. But Jekyll’s monstrous alter ego Hyde fights for control and can only be subdued by drugs. Meanwhile the living Ahmanet’s immortal spirit decides Nick’s her ” chosen one,” and possesses him by getting into his head and forces him to put together the dagger for an evil ritual killing. Whenever things can’t be cleared up by the story, Crowe’s Jekyll comes to the rescue to bore us with the absurd explanation. Crowe’s character role in such a hokum film, where he’s also miscast, shows how far the mighty bloated thespian has fallen in recent years. The story never lucidly comes together, except as a promo for Universal’s plans for more reboots of their monster classics. Before it ends we are reminded by Jekyll that sometimes it takes a monster to catch a monster, as we see the Cruise character as a monster as well as a self-sacrificing human (if you can believe!) riding off in the sunset in the Iraq desert with his sidekick looking for (God help us!) more adventures.