The Mummy is an antagonist steeped in cinematic tradition, first appearing on the silver screen back in 1932 with Boris Karloff, and it’s a role we’ve seen reprised on numerous occasions since, including the Brendan Fraser-starring trilogy which began in 1999. So to vindicate Alex Kurtzman’s latest reimagining, we need a new angle, something original and fresh that will reinvent the franchise, and instead all we’re left with is a generic blockbuster. It may offer an uncynical, unwavering sense of adventure, but we want more. Because otherwise, why bother?
This reboot is fronted by the ever-dependable Tom Cruise, who plays Nick Morton, a greedy soldier with a persistent inclination to make money on the side during his time spent honouring his country. With his partner-in-crime Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) by his side, the pair uncover an Egyptian tomb in the Middle East – hosting a malevolent Princess so nasty, she had to be buried in another continent just in case she was to ever rise again. Thanks to these nitwits, that moment is rapidly approaching, and while archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) wants to protect their findings, keeping Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) at bay may be harder than initially envisaged – though the most important thing is to prevent this nefarious Mummy from getting her hands on a weapon that could see her wreak havoc on the entire world.
The previous Mummy trilogy thrived in its sense of mystery, with several clues and puzzles our protagonists had to overcome along the way, but on this occasion Kurtzman has taken a rather more formulaic approach, as what transpires is an archetypal survival horror flick. Thankfully, however, the set-pieces are staggeringly impressive, with the zero gravity sequence on the plane a highlight – it’s just everything in-between which is problematic. It’s a shame that we spend so little time in Egypt too, instead taking place for the most in the UK. We want tombs but instead we get rooms. Kurtzman has vied to inject a sense of comedic relief into proceedings too, and while necessary, feels all too contrived in its approach. Instead it’s the more intense moments which prove to be the most effective, particularly those featuring Boutella, as she is the stand-out performer in this production, bringing a sense of depth and a graceful physicality to the eponymous antagonist.
Naturally, Cruise does his job well, being such an accomplished blockbuster lead. While Russell Crowe is underused as Dr. Henry Jekyll. The latter’s involvement is emblematic of a film that is tasked with the responsibility of world-building – a necessity, but it doesn’t equate to much fun sadly, as Kurtzman has the forthcoming endeavours from the studio in mind. The Mummy is the first of the rebooted Universal Monsters Universe after all, and while flawed, let’s just hope such shortcomings are merely teething problems and not a sign of what’s to come.