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The Mummy (2017) Movie Review

The Mummy (2017) movie poster The Mummy (2017)

Theatrical Release: June 9, 2017 / Running Time: 107 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Alex Kurtzman / Writers: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet (screen story); David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman (screenplay)

Cast: Tom Cruise (Nick Morton), Russell Crowe (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde), Annabelle Wallis (Jenny Halsey), Sofia Boutella (Ahmanet), Jake Johnson (Chris Vail), Courtney B. Vance (Col. Greenway), Marwan Kenzari (Malik)

 

Give The Mummy credit for being ambitious. Not only does it attempt to reboot a franchise that hasn't had a theatrical release in nearly a decade, but it also simultaneously tries to launch Dark Universe, a multi-series world meant to resemble those of Marvel and DC, and, to a smaller degree,
the alternating annual Star Wars movies. Dark Universe will make use of Universal Pictures' oldest horror institutions including Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf Man. It's an undertaking with more risk and less reward than the aforementioned cinematic universes.

The Mummy gets the ball rolling not with Brendan Fraser or spin-off launching Scorpion King Dwayne Johnson but with one-time box office king Tom Cruise. Though Cruise has had many standalone hits over the years, his biggest commercial successes of late have been Mission: Impossible sequels. Now he's asked to usher in a new popcorn action franchise, one involving archaeologists and otherworldly artifacts rather than spies and gadgets.

Cruise plays Nick Morton, a present-day, Indiana Jones-type adventurer looking for some big finds in the former Mesopotamia with his comic relief sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). The two get a stern talking to from Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), a respected British colleague from whom Morton has stolen an ancient map after bedding. The three of them find themselves in a cave with some ancient security and mysteries. They uncover some very old stuff that has a dramatic effect on both Morton and Vail.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) gets some answers from Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) in 2017's "The Mummy."

Vail becomes possessed, unhinged, and somewhat immortal. Morton, meanwhile, has his mind taken hold by our new mummy, a Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who has been strategically erased from history. This powerful Egyptian goddess has to find a vessel to infuse with the spirit of Set, Egypt's god of death. But the specifics never seem particularly important. The gist you need to follow is that Morton is being seduced by this attractive young/ancient deity.

The matter is being supervised by Jenny's organization, a group led by one Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe, sporting an anachronistic center part). That's right, Dr. Jekyll. As you can imagine, he sometimes isn't quite himself.

It wouldn't be a Tom Cruise movie without a sequence of the star running with purpose. The Mummy features no fewer than three of those. It also includes an airplane stunt to rival some of the impressive things he's done in the latest Mission: Impossible installments. Cruise also gets his shirt off, something he seems increasingly compelled to do at an age-defying 54. And he gets cozy with not one but two love interests significantly younger than him.

The new mummy is Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a princess who has been erased from ancient Egyptian history who has some unfinished business to attend to in the present day.

Is this a Tom Cruise movie? Is this a Mummy movie? The answer to both of those is "yes" and there isn't the clash that might suggest. Fraser's Mummy movies don't seem to demand the reverence that other reboot targets do and this identically titled revival pays no obvious homage to it. The film is at its most entertaining when it's letting Cruise and Johnson recall An American Werewolf in London with some horror-tinged comedy.

You can understand Universal seeing what Disney and Warner have and wanting in on that lucrative game. This is Hollywood where no success is above imitation. At the same time, it's tough to see the allure to this shared universe at least as established here. There's no tease for the next film (save yourself the trouble of waiting out the long end credits scroll!), a Bride of Frankenstein movie directed by Bill Condon (returning to his Gods and Monsters roots)
that isn't due for another two years. It's easy to speculate how Cruise or Crowe's characters could resurface in other films and groundwork is laid for a direct sequel as well. But will enough people care for Universal to follow through on their plans? That seems like a genuine question with most planned movies having nothing but producers and screenwriters announced at this point.

Helmed by longtime tentpole writer-producer and second-time director Alex Kurtzman and credited to him and five other mostly seasoned screenwriters, The Mummy is a little different from the superheroes and animation with which it will share multiplexes this season. Its thrills are somewhat old school, although they look pretty shiny and new. The adventure may not be as consistently exciting as what's found in Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but it's also not as familiar or fatigued as what the Pirates of the Caribbean and, presumably, Transformers series are regurgitating. But it will probably make less money than all of those things, which is surely not the note on which Dark Universe wants to kick things off.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Wonder Woman Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Tom Cruise: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Edge of Tomorrow The Firm Top Gun
Annabelle Wallis: Annabelle Come and Find Me | Jake Johnson: Jurassic World Safety Not Guaranteed No Strings Attached
Russell Crowe: The Nice Guys Virtuosity Body of Lies Winter's Tale Noah | Directed by Alex Kurtzman: People Like Us
From the Writers: Transformers Spider-Man The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Inferno The Usual Suspects

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Reviewed June 9, 2017.



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