THE MUMMY (M, 110 MINS) DIRECTED BY ALEX KURTZMAN
Sometime in the 12th century, a group of Crusader knights gather down in the bowels of London and plonk a giant ruby on the body of their recently deceased mate.
Fast forward to the present day and we find Tom Cruise sitting on the back of a horse, doing a Three Kings in the Iraqi desert by using his freedom as a long range scout to nick any bits of antiquity he can lay his hands on.
The role requires of Cruise a kind of cheeky jack-the-lad quality we have seen him deliver before in spades, but which here he can’t quite locate to save himself.
Cruise has improbably scarpered with a map to a site a beautiful archaeologist he seduced the night before thinks is worth a look. But those pesky Iraqi insurgents are all over the joint, leaving the Cruiser and his obviously-soon-to-be-dead buddy Jake Johnson to call in the airstrike that opens up the entrance to an ancient tomb.
It’s a busy and pretty impressive opening 15 minutes or so to a film that is hoping, I guess, to repeat the success of the Brendan Fraser Mummy trilogy of the noughties and its Scorpion King spinoffs. All of which cleaned up at the box office even as the films got progressively worse. Even at their most overblown, those films had a daft energy and a likeable, self-aware retro-silliness that secures them fondly in the memory.
This new Mummy tries to catch that same mood and tone. And mostly fails. Co-writer and director Alex Kurtzman has a remarkably skinny CV for this kind of tentpole movie. His only other spin in the director’s chair is the sketchy 2012 rom-dram People Like Us.
To be fair, Kurtzman has written plenty of top-drawer screenplays. But when it comes to actually getting a story from page to screen, he is pretty inexperienced. And maybe that’s what damages The Mummy.
The film just doesn’t have any idea what it wants to be. One minute we’re in the middle of a knife murder that ends with a fairly graphic shooting. That then segues into a plane crash that at least guarantees The Mummy will never be offered up as an inflight entertainment option. But the next scene is a played-for-laughs, my-mates-a-zombie gag straight out of the Shaun of the Dead rejects bin.
This jumbled mess of tone and style hamstrings the movie from beginning to end.
We can’t settle in and enjoy it for the daffy action comedy it should be when Kurtzman won’t give his cast the chance to milk their lines for comedy.
But The Mummy doesn’t work as a horror either because it’s just far too stupid, far too often.
– Graeme Tuckett
Not scary enough to be a horror, nor funny enough to be a comedy, The Mummy is just a jumbled mess.