‘The Mummy’ is wrapped way too tight

Annabelle Wallis and Tom Cruise in ‘The Mummy’
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I mean, it was a mummy movie. It was a good film independent of its source. It that looks like Lawrence of Arabia on steroids in a lot of ways – Brendan Fraser talking about The Mummy (1999)

It has been 85 years since the release of the first film titled The Mummy.  Now we get another movie with this title, as the first installment in the Universal “Dark Universe.”  Part of the plan was to set up the films to come in this newly launched universe and that is part of the reason the film doesn’t work well.

The movie opens during the Crusades as crusading knights from England locate a large ruby in Egypt.  They take it back to their homeland and bury it with some of their fallen comrades in a secret underground tomb.  The ruby is hidden in the casket of one of the dead.

Fast forward to the present day and we watch as a construction project discovers that secret tomb.  Enter “Doctor Henry Jekyll” (Russell Crowe – The Man With the Iron Fists) who takes control of the scene.  We learn the story of the ruby’s origins.  It was part of a dagger created by Set, the Egyptian God of Death and given to “Princess Ahmanet” (Sofia Boutella – Star Trek Beyond).  She was set to become the ruler of Egypt until her father was blessed with a newborn son.  After killing her entire family she was about to use the dagger to kill her lover, which would allow Set to assume human form.  She was caught and her punishment was to be mummified.  If this sounds a lot like the 1999 version of the story, don’t worry.  It should.

At roughly the same time, “Nick Morton” (Tom Cruise – Oblivion) and “Chris Vail” (Jake Johnson – Jurassic World), two U.S. Special Forces operatives are working on a mission in Iraq when they discover the tomb of Ahmanet.  This brings archaeologist “Jenny Halsey” (Annabelle Wallis – Grimsby) to the site to investigate.  After she examines the tomb and deduces that it was constructed to keep Ahmanet within, “Colonel Greenway” (Courtney B. Vance – Office Christmas Party) orders the sarcophagus loaded onto a cargo plane.

Something goes wrong on the flight to England, thanks to Ahmanet.  The plane is going down and in what may well be the first and last unselfish act of his life, Nick gives the only parachute to Jenny and tosses her from the plane.  He awakens in a morgue filled with other dead bodies.  Once he manages to get to the office of Dr. Jekyll he learns that in opening the sarcophagus of Ahmanet he was cursed and there is no way to ever lift that curse.  If Ahmanet is able to reunite the dagger with the ruby, she will use it to kill Nick and that will give his body to Set to inhabit.

Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe in ‘The Mummy’

There are two main problems with this take on The Mummy.  It fails to strike the balance found in the 1999 version between action and comedy/cleverness.  It is also too wrapped up in establishing the background of the Dark Universe for the films to come that will involve other monsters.  Tom Cruise is a gifted actor when you can pry him away from the action/adventure films that seem to take up all of his time and effort these days.  There was speculation that some of the problems with The Mummy were due to his micromanagement of every detail in the making of the film.  Given how good he has been in so many outstanding films, made by gifted filmmakers, that’s hard to swallow.

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Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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