Tom Cruise gets wrapped up in adventure as the Dark Universe series kicks off.
RELEASED OUT NOW! 12A | 107 minutes Director Alex Kurtzman Cast Tom Cruise, Jake Johnson, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis
“Death is a doorway,” reads the first line of the opening text for The Mummy – a concept that Vigo The Carpathian would certainly appreciate. Fortunately for the rest of us, this latest attempt to dust off the creature’s entertainment value shares little else in common with the much-maligned Ghostbusters sequel. This is, while flawed, an enjoyable adventure.
The Mummy has been through several big-screen variations, from the classic Universal horror in which the franchise has its roots, to the attempt to give it an adventurous, Indiana Jones-style makeover in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Director Alex Kurtzman’s attempt to kick off a new “Dark Universe” series of connected monster stories hews closer to the latter than the former and is ultimately the better for it.
Tom Cruise is the hero here, but he’s in Edge Of Tomorrow mode as charming but amoral treasure hunter Nick Morton, who uses his military status as cover to collect antiquities. With best pal Sergeant Vail (an agreeably scruffy and sarcastic Jake Johnson), he stumbles on something even he can’t deal with: the tomb – actually, the prison – of ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), mummified alive after making a murderous pact with Set, the god of death, for power and immortality. Once she’s unleashed, it’s up to Nick and World Heritage representative Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) to stop her.
With its star happy to undercut his heroic status once again (while still indulging in the sort of action he seems happiest performing), the rest of the film is your basic big
Cruise is happy to undercut his heroic status once again
summer event movie with a few amusing quirks. Ahmanet, who’s charismatically brought to life by Boutella, has a decent backstory and some decent motivation for why she does what she does, even if the effects begin to swamp her at certain points. The horror elements are, meanwhile, fitfully effective, and fortunately light on predictable jump scares.
For a movie that’s tasked with providing the spark for a Marvel-style tapestry of films, it also manages to work in its own right. Even Russell Crowe, here saddled with the Basil Exposition role as Dr Jekyll, gets to have fun when he turns into a Ray Winstone-esque Mr Hyde.
The seams show from time to time, but it rarely feels like The Mummy grinds to a halt to service the bigger picture. It won’t win any prizes for originality, but this is a pleasurable, diverting use of a well-worn idea.
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