The Mummy
dir Alex Kurtzman
scr David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
prd Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel, Sarah Bradshaw
with Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Courtney B Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Neil Maskell, Rhona Croker, Selva Rasalingam, Javier Botet, Noof McEwan
release US/UK 9.Jun.17
17/UK Universal 1h50
The Mummy
Mummy: Impossible! Wallis and Cruise

boutella crowe vance
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Mummy To launch its Dark Universe, Universal pulls out all the stops for this remake. But instead of going back to Boris Karloff (1932) or Peter Cushing (1959), this aims for Brendan Fraser (1999), with gigantic set-pieces replacing the loopy sense of fun. There is the odd flash of snarky humour, but it's predominently serious and gloomy, and never suspenseful or scary. Still, Cruise works up a sweat entertaining us.

In Daesh-occupied Iraq, American mercenary Nick (Cruise) and his partner Vail (Johnson) are plundering a cursed tomb when they're caught by archaeologist Jenny (Wallis). They all head back to London with the priceless sarcophagus of Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Boutella), who was up to murderous supernatural nastiness when she was mummified and hidden underground in Mesopotamia. But Ahmanet gets Nick under her spell, crashes the plane and goes on a quest to reassemble the dagger of Set and unleash more mayhem on humanity. To get out of this, Nick consults Jenny's unstable boss Henry Jekyll (Crowe).

The plot couldn't be any more cursory, as it merely connects action sequences that flood the screen with digitally animated sandstorms (at least three of them) and resurrected corpses (including some who swim). The mythology makes absolutely no sense, nor does Jekyll's underground lair with its clanky mechanical tech and, ahem, vast windows. In other words, each element is over-designed, so nothing looks real even within the realm of a monster movie.

Still, the filmmakers know that Cruise is their primary asset, throwing him into plenty of outlandish stuntwork. He may be playing a sleazy womanising thief, but we're meant to see this as roguishly charming. Wallis and Boutella invest some intelligence and intensity into their roles, but they're so undefined that both remain little more than supermodels. Wallis is basically a hot scientist in distress, while Boutella is a woman with a 5,000-year grudge who looks ludicrously sexy in disintegrating bandages.

The main frustration is that the film is so overblown that it's hard to take seriously, and director Kurtzman plays everything so straight-faced that there's almost no camp value. We want to either laugh or cheer or be scared out of our wits, but we only sit back and watch yet another enormous summer blockbuster carefully crafted to launch yet another uninspiring franchise. There's plenty of material here for further adventures, but if they want to gain traction, these need to be proper hand-crafted films, not studio products.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 8.Jun.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall