The last of our Gods has finally forsaken us. After decades of carefully choosing projects that emphasized his best qualities while playing to the largest global audience possible Tom Cruise has lead us astray with The Mummy, a CGI-riddled mess of a film meant to introduce Universal Studios’ ‘Dark Universe’ to the masses. It’s the exact kind of film the veteran actor has managed to miss being tied to for the majority of his career, yet here he is, being transformed from his signature grounded hero background into a digitally-manipulated pinball bounced around by a similarly animated villain.
Opening with a prolonged introduction detailing the history of the film’s titular character narrated by Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jeckyll, The Mummy quickly cuts to the present day where Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are looking to liberate lost treasure while they’re supposed to be on assignment elsewhere. A gun fight and a few slick one-liners later, the pair stumble upon the tomb of the title character and unwittingly loose her evil upon an unsuspecting world.
If you have seen any of the promotional assets for The Mummy you know there is a big action set piece that involves a plane falling out of the sky with Cruise and several supporting characters on board. The sequence occurs roughly twenty minutes into the film and serves as the peak of all that is good in this otherwise comically morose film.
Nick miraculously survives the crash, and in doing so realizes he has forged some kind of connection with the titular villainess he cannot fully explain. He ignores the obvious signs something isn’t right while endlessly mansplaining the seriousness of any given event to his intellectual superior and romantic counterpart, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis). It’s all a bunch of fluff that exists purely to setup a third act encounter with Crowe’s Jeckyll that is then used to more or less turn the key and jumpstart the rest Universal’s upcoming ‘Dark Universe’ without once arguing the need for its existence.
Make no mistake: This is a move made in order to make more movies. This is not a classic narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, but rather the beginning of something much larger than itself that a group of executives you and I have never met hope brings longterm financial gain to everyone involved. Like Fantastic Beasts or Power Rangers before it, The Mummy fails to be a good movie because it’s too concerned with setting up the building blocks of a proposed universe the world may or may never see brought to life.
This is a complete misfire of epic proportions. It’s as if Universal decided to try and be Marvel when they should have attempted to become Blumhouse, who has found major success in the horror genre over the last decade. Nothing here works as it should, making even the best moments feel pretty weak. I have no doubt the film will inevitable become something that plays on a basic cable loop along with whatever additional ‘Dark Universe’ movies exists, but I don’t believe any amount of repeat watches or time will make the viewing experience any better. We’d all be better off pretending it didn’t happen in the first place.