Tom can’t save a mon­ster mess

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

The Mummy (15) Uni­ver­sal stu­dios launch their new Dark Uni­verse — res­ur­rect­ing and link­ing to­gether their clas­sic movie mon­sters from the 1920s-to-50s — with the re­turn of the ban­daged an­tag­o­nist (whis­per it, ap­par­ently we’ve to pre­tend 2014’s Drac­ula Un­told never hap­pened).

And there is no bet­ter way to get the ball rolling than by hir­ing the world’s big­gest movie star — Tom Cruise — to take on the repack­aged Egyp­tian princess Ah­manet (Sofia Boutella).

A sure­fire recipe for suc­cess? Well, not quite be­cause by the end of this un­even, medi­ocre, at times down­right dull, romp you’ll be pin­ing for the der­ring-do and cheesy fun of Bren­dan Fraser and Co’s 1999 take on The Mummy, never mind Boris Karloff ’s iconic 1932 ap­pear­ance.

Cruise him­self is fine. His ex-mil­i­tary of­fi­cer com­ing across as a mod­ern In­di­ana Jones with im­pul­sive and reck­less ten­den­cies, com­plete with the 54-year-old’s love of crazy stunts and ap­ing of his ma­cho sta­tus — tak­ing his fair share of slaps to the face from his fe­male co-stars.

It’s vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing else that’s the prob­lem, not least Boutella’s re­lent­less and phys­i­cally nim­ble-but-sorely lack­ing in men­ace vil­lain­ess.

In fair­ness, though, she’s given lit­tle time to shine in a mud­dled story penned by no fewer than six writ­ers — in­clud­ing The Usual Sus­pects’ Christo­pher McQuar­rie and Juras­sic Park’s David Koepp — that sees ful­lyfleshed char­ac­ters take a back seat to wonky su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers and mag­i­cal arte­facts.

Alex Kurtz­man, who de­liv­ered scripts for the likes of Star Trek and Trans­form­ers, di­rects only his sec­ond movie — and his first block­buster — and strug­gles to serve up suf­fi­cient pop­corn thrills and spills.

The plum­met­ing, pres­sure-less plane set piece that dom­i­nated the mar­ket­ing cam­paign is the film’s ac­tion high­light, with not even a Lon­don sand­storm com­ing close. Ah­manet’s zom­bie-like min­ions — and more crows than even Hitch­cock could’ve han­dled in The Birds — add very lit­tle in­tim­i­da­tion or peril.

Kurtz­man’s film doesn’t feel very big ei­ther. Af­ter an an­cient Egypt-set pro­logue, we go from Iraq to Lon­don — and that’s it. The lack of globe-trot­ting maybe wouldn’t be as no­tice­able if there weren’t so many scenes of peo­ple talk­ing in rooms and other tight lo­ca­tions.

Cruise’s hero’s vi­sions stall the for­ward mo­men­tum and Annabelle Wal­lis’ pompous, cold arche­ol­o­gist and Jake John­son’s barely used comic relief feel like forced com­rades for the lead­ing man, rather than nat­u­ral bud­dies.

At least Rus­sell Crowe looks like he’s hav­ing a blast as Dr Henry Jekyll — po­si­tioned as the Dark Uni­verse’s an­swer to Nick Fury.

But if this uni­verse is to grow and see its planned mul­ti­tude of flicks come to fruition, it will need a lot more en­ergy, thrills and chills than this deeply dis­ap­point­ing opener.

On the edge Cruise and Wal­lis hang on for dear life in The Mummy

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