Well, this was absolute garbage.
Spoiler warning… though I don’t see why you’d care.
I was hoping that The Mummy would either be a boringly stupid film (like The Hunger Games), or a hilariously stupid film (like Super Mario Bros.), and was hoping more on the latter. Unfortunately, this is an annoying, stupid, abhorrent excuse for studio cinema and joins the ranks of the worst big budgeted mainstream films, Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and A Good Day to Die Hard. Jupiter Ascending and Gods of Egypt were both better than this because they had some redeeming values. Yes, this is worse than Pirates of the Caribbean 5 in terms of big “blockbuster” cinema. And considering people are still seeing Wonder Woman more than this, it’s at least one case where a better film beats a terrible film.
Before I explain why every piece of this film doesn’t work, let me educate you on the idiot shit merchant in charge of this film, and the “Dark Universe” (that DC is considering suing over because of their Dark Universe comics): Alex Kurtsman. Alex Kurtsman is 50% of the duo that produced and wrote awful blockbuster films like Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Transformers 1 and 2 (though I still like the Transformers films because Michael Bay manages to keep them mostly his), The Amazing Spiderman 2, and a personal piece of hatred my brother and I share: Cowboys and Aliens. Alex Kurtsman and Robert Orci are the worst of the JJ Abrams school of cinema. Luckily this film broke them up because Orci wanted to direct and ruin Star Trek, while Kurtsman wanted to direct and ruin Spiderman. Fortunately neither happened and the pair are largely separated. As a storyteller: Alex and his other weak-sauce Abrams wannabes construct overly complex stories around basic ideas to hide how terrible they are, have bullshit mythic and government conspiracy references, and often have stupid “reveals. Usually another director can break through their garbage and make it theirs (or in Cowboys and Aliens’ case: they smother the director), in this case Alex Kurtsman thinks he could direct The Mummy as well as be one of the 6 screenwriters, and produce it, too.
No, seriously, it took these screenwriters to make this crap:
-Alex Kurtsman (already listed his trash)
-Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation)
-David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, Spiderman)
-Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Passengers, Doctor Strange)
-Dylan Kussman (Like…nothing of value)
-Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)
Seriously… there’s some fantastic names in there, and this is the worst constructed feature film narrative out of a studio production since Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I’m not gonna put the blame on those writers though, I’m just going to blame the one guy I know made this travesty: Alex Kurtsman. For one: he can’t direct for ANYTHING. There are maybe 1 or 2 shots that look good, the rest is poorly choreographed, lazy direction and editing that has no focus, no good color pallet, and no defining feature. If you had told me everything was done by 2nd Unit Direction, I would’ve believed you and called them terrible.
This might be the ugliest big budget film in a while. It’s sometimes so incoherent and dark that I can see more in a bad transfer of The Relic. Considering they had the pretty good cinematographer from Unstoppable, Transformers 2, Pain and Gain, and World War Z… how’d it look so ugly? Not to mention that the continuity and staging are some of the worst I’ve ever seen, worse than a Michael Bay film because at least Michael Bay focuses on visual interest than continuity sometimes- this does neither. There’s no tension, impact, or pulse pounding breakneck pace to make me believe it’s a good action or horror film. Every action scene has Tom Cruise as an indestructible rag-doll who does nothing, and every “horror” moment is a jump scare.
Now I have to try and make sense of the plot… great. The plot is essentially about Princess Ahmanet being the heir of Egypt to her widowed father, until he has a son with a concubine and decides he’ll make him pharaoh instead. So Ahmanet makes a deal with Set, the God of Death, who appears once and tells her to… wait, hold on. She murders her father and baby brother… not because Set told her to, and then she has to kill a guy she loves to make him become Set… I’m not even 5 minutes into the film and I’m confused. But she’s stopped before she can make him a god, she’s mummified alive and taken far from Egypt and her special dagger to make Set is broken in two. The rest of the plot is Tom Cruise as a military grave robber stumbling onto Ahmanet’s tomb from a map he stole from the woman who is working for the guy looking for… great, another fucking stupid coincidence. And then Cruise frees the mummy so she chooses him to be her “Chosen” from which Set will be born and then… more stupid stuff happens. I’d describe the plot more in depth, but I’d give myself a brain hemorrhage doing that.
Essentially, it’s a coincidental plot which gives Tom Cruise’s character no real agency or responsibility (except for releasing and solving the evil), a female Mummy character who has most of her character based around male characters (her father, Set and Tom Cruise), an annoying sidekick who makes terrible comic relief, and a female character whose actor is annoying. This leaves only one interesting character in Russell Crowe playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (though you can guess which is more fun to watch). Everything ties back to the group “Prodigium” (which is a stupid title that makes me wish I were watching Digimon), and its really shallow world building that’s too coincidental to feel organic. Tom Cruise just bumbles around with the villain either making him do stuff, making the plot happen, or some other thing that makes for uninteresting storytelling.
I explained to people beforehand that the movie set up its own universe and less than The Mummy of the title, but those I told this to said it was too confusing for me to explain… but it’s what the movie does and my explanation was more clear than the film. But the ending makes no sense, has no genuine motivation, and is a cop out of an ending that boggles the mind: seriously I could’ve written a better Mummy film- and I will, just to challenge this film. Tom Cruise really is at his worst here. This is by far his worst film. Worse than Oblivion, worse than Vanilla Sky, worse than Cocktail, and worse than Days of Thunder (which at least had a good director). He’s basically a bad 90’s point-and-click adventure character who does nothing important until the plot allows him, bumbles about, and gets things explained to him.
Actually, that’s a really good analogy for the entire film- it’s a decent looking, poorly written, poorly thought out point-and-click adventure game that show some effort, but mostly feels lazy. The male and female sidekicks are both annoying and not funny, Russell Crowe is fun enough and it’s really only Sofia Boutella’s often sidelined The Mummy who has any presence. Tom Cruise mostly sucks because he’s Sam from the Transformer films: a rag-doll wearing plot armor that does mostly nothing except the important things. It just makes Cruise the most important guy in the world to be wanted, controlled, or followed by people, and had to do mostly nothing for it.
I feel the need to point out the few “good things” in this trash heap. One- Sofia Boutella is a really well designed and well-acted character who suffers from lack of screen time and no real self-motivation. But when she’s on screen it is fun enough and she has raw film-making presence that Kingsmen already showed off, and that I hope Atomic Blonde will continue. Russell Crowe as Mr. Hyde is incredibly fun, and… that’s kind of it. Aside from the vampire and creature from the Black Lagoon Easter eggs: everything else is garbage. I’d almost want it to continue with Benicio Del Toro’s Frankenstein and Johnny Depp’s Invisible man… but… no. Considering previous attempts of starting the Dark Universe were the hilariously bad I, Frankenstein and the decent Dracula: Untold… you should’ve started at Dracula and had this movie tie into that for better world building.