The Mummy (2017) – Alex Kurtzman

I won’t lie, I loved the idea of Universal’s Dark Universe, a multi-cinematic excursion that ties all the classic Universal monsters together in some new dynamic way. But when I heard the reviews beginning to pour in about the first entry, which subsequently killed any plans for continuing the proposed universe I stayed away.

Until no

Watching the film, I realized the biggest problem could be summed up in two words, or one name. Tom Cruise.

He’s just too big for the film, and the role he takes on, that of Nick Morton, a charming rogue of a thief is not a Tom Cruise role, it needed a Brendan Fraser, someone who can be heroic, but also has a goofy side that he can lean into. Having now mentioned Brendan, I do love the blink and you miss it nod to the 1999 film he starred in, confirming that it takes place in the same universe.

Nick is hunting down antiquities, staying one step ahead of the terrorists blowing up almost any historical structure they find, covering his path. He’s joined by Vail (Jake Johnson) who eventually plays out a sidekick role as seen in American Werewolf in London.

They are joined by Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who works for a covert agency that hunts down evil and guess what they just found one, an Egyptian princess whose name has been deliberately removed from history for her actions, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella who imbues her character with equal parts terror and touches of sympathy).

She did bad things, attempted to transform her lover into the earthly form of the god Set, and rule everything. So of course, she was mummified alive, and our heroes discover her.

A resurrection occurs, there’s a mystical connection between her and Nick, and the chase is on (with all the big action beats you expect from a Cruise film), as she’s set on killing Nick with a valuable relic and allowing Set to walk the modern world. Nick finds himself working with Jenny’s agency, run by Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), which through a tour of their facilities, sets up so many other things that now, aren’t going to pay off.

The final act is a little much, and with all the silliness going on throughout the story, it is a popcorn film after all, it just felt like a bridge too far. That being said, there are some nice visuals, I particularly liked the shot of Nick swimming and being chased by resurrected corpses at the same time, it looked great, the stuff of nightmares.

But Cruise’s star power, and some narrative choices really hobbled this film. You’re not watching Nick, you’re watching Tom Cruise play at being a Rick Connell-type character, and he’s not goofy and self-effacing enough to pull it off.

I’m not saying the Dark Universe couldn’t work. It very much could. Who doesn’t want an interconnected cinematic realm where the classic Universal monsters all exist together? Maybe put Cruise behind the scenes as a major producer, and maybe a cameo, but he was way too big for what this film wanted to be, a launching point for something bigger.

Oh well.


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