Geez, settle down people. The Mummy isn’t nearly as bad as critics are saying. For me it is a classic attempt at a B Movie and I sure hope The Mummy is supposed to be a tonne of fun, because that’s what I got out of it.
Russell Crowe opens the film with a voiceover in a “I’m speaking in a very important voice” voice, as he explains some mumbo jumbo about doorways to the afterlife as we watch a scene that could play right out of Three Kings, Monuments Men or even Lawrence of Arabia.
Tom Cruise (as Nick Morton) and Jake Johnson (as Sergeant Vail) are advance reconnaissance soldiers for the US military, scouting forward positions for enemy activity in Iraq.
As the country was formerly Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation, it becomes immediately apparent that they may have fibbed on their LinkedIn profiles, because in actual fact, the pair are “Liberators of Antiquities” and they have their eye on a little village of particular importance, the location of which they have learned from a map that is (probably) stolen.
Unfortunately for them the town is occupied by bad guys, and by bad guys I mean pretty much most of ISIS.
Naturally this is of no consequence to Cruise’s character who has already recognised the opportunity for Tom Cruise-like shenanigans with plenty of rooftops to clamber over to reach his objective.
Heck, the film has been going for a whole minute and we’ve yet to see him run, dive, roll or tumble, so before you, or his onscreen partner can utter “Let’s call in an airstrike”, Cruise is off like a greyhound after a rabbit (the film was NOT shot in NSW) as he scrambles to cover.
The enemy forces do look kinda unbeatable, so Cruise’s chickenshit mate Vail does just that – calling in an airstrike from a nearby drone that had possibly just made a delivery for Amazon.
Lo and behold, Cruise is pissed off because the airstrike will now alert, not the enemy, but his superiors, to the fact that he and his mate are not “reconnaissancing” but “booty-pinching”.
Also Lo and Behold, the airstrike has opened up the EXACT same crater that kicked off the utterly horrible X-Men Apocalypse. And within that crater we quickly learn is pretty much a bunch of Egyptian themed props that are WAY better looking than the ones the X-MEN guys got to touch.
But before Cruise can take a closer gander at the goods, his superior officer rocks up in the form of Johnnie Cochrane from The People vs OJ Simpson aka Courtney B. Vance as Colonel Greenway, or Colonel Gideon Forster depending on which Wikipedia entry you look at.
But the Colonel is not alone. In tow is a woman! And not just any woman.
Lara Croft Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) is the rightful owner of the treasure map, and it immediately transpires that Cruise STOLE it from her after a night of passion…which she reveals lasted all of 15 seconds. BAHAHAHAHAHA… take that Tom!
So far so good, as the film is maybe ten minutes old and has already delivered a gunfight, an airstrike, a mysterious hole int he ground, wisecracks and ribbing about a main character’s lack of staying power in the bedroom. (Note to Tom, next time you “come Down Under” dial 1800 10 10 90)
The film basks in the glory of using everything that was good about films like Indiana Jones, National Treasure and even the (first, good) Da Vinci Code films, and disposing of anything from those films that sucked.
The score meanwhile is propelling this thing along, triumphant and John Williams-esque when it needs to be, and brooding and spooky when that is required, like when they start to think about going down the crater to check for “Mummies”.
(NB this score person BTW did the score for one of my favourite ever video games Far Cry 3 – so Bryan Tyler is my new go-to composer.)
So, Cruise, Johnson and Wallis descended into the ancient tomb, which of course is a bad idea, but “enemy forces are closing in on our position” so of course what choice do they have?!
It is here underground that we get our first piece of genius CGI related acting.
Oscars are all well and good, but can somebody please create an award for the actors required to respond to made up SFX that have yet to be made up. In this instance horrible giant spiders that swarm all over the trio, and despite their best swatting efforts, one of these hairy arachnids bites Johnson.
That is, after he decided to nick some of the precious articles strewn about the place leftover from that X-MEN film.
But what is that over there? Normally these guardian dudes face outwards to protect the dead while they make their commute to the afterlife. But not this lady. All the guard dog things face INWARDS…
In other words, under no circumstances should she be moved.
Cut to – a sarcophagus dangling precariously from an army helicopter as it flies very close to the ground through the desert attempting to outrun a sandstorm. Not the Da Rude kind, but an actual sand storm.
At this point you realise Tom Cruise is about to get on board an actual plane, and shit is going to get real. I mean did you see his last film and what he did on a plane in that? Christopher McQuarrie wrote that MI film and he co-wrote this one, so you know he is hell-bent on killing Tom Cruise in a plane anyway he can.
Before long the ancient cargo has been occy-strapped on board an army transport bound for Russell Crowe’s character’s living room and it is here that we witness the awesome power of Cruise, and of properly mixed audio.
For this is the scene from the infamous IMAX trailer and it is a pretty dope scene, with Halsey reading the inscription on the sarcophagus and all hell breaking loose as The Mummy conjures up some mystical forces hoodoo voodoo shit and the plane plummets towards the earth and…this is one of those seriously awesome stunt and SFX sequences that looks BOSS on a big screen. Beyond that I ain’t spoiling nothing!
What struck me and possibly nobody else is the fact that Cruise basically becomes involved in a love triangle with The Mummy aka Ahmanet – a brunette (Sofia Boutella) and Halsey – a blonde (Wallis).
It is almost as if the whole film Cruise’s character has to try and decide if he prefers blondes or brunettes.
Or women that are dead or alive. What does the poster say – Tom Cruise
is The Mummy…
After the plane “reaches its destination” (note to self, NEVER watch this on a plane), The Mummy becomes what it set out to become, a Monster Movie proper, as Sofia Boutella erupts in a firestorm of bandages and CGI as the movie’s first primary villain, and boy can she move.
I’m not a big fan of zombies – because they actually scare me – but somehow director Alex Kurtzman makes them the “Fun-Dead”.
Cruise meanwhile is tripping out as he goes on the hunt for Almond-Nut Ahmanet and his mate Vail keeps popping up everywhere too.
Did I mention that we also get to meet Russell Crowe (as a key classic character) by this stage and as I watch the scenes with Cruise and Crowe play out I seriously begin to wonder if the two of them did in fact appear on the same set (perhaps they were shot as singles?), because the reality of Cruise AND Crowe together on one set at the same time is pretty awesome as far as I am concerned.
Sure they’ve both made better movies than The Mummy, but I don’t think they have EVER been in a film together, let alone share scenes like the ones they share here.
This is star power turned up as bright as it goes and i think there is no denying they create tension together. And with Cruise in classic Cruise shape and Rusty in Pie and Beers mode, the tension feels real as they go at it Rabbit-toe to toe.
Just listen to Rusty’s sultry tones in serious mode in the trailer and you know this is “A Big Movie“.
All the while the backstory of The Mummy trundles along with little pieces being unveiled at appropriate plot points, but none of it really matters, because this is one of those “We Are Setting Up The Franchise” films that drops all kinds of crazy hints about where this Universal Monster Universe is headed.
Creature From The Black Lagoon, Dracula, The Invisible Man (prove to me he WASN’T in this film) and any number of other titles drop clues in a scene where we infiltrate Dr Jekyll’s lair and wander past an array of specimen jars containing gills, fangs and the like.
The film takes a darker turn as the tussle between Crowe and Cruise heats up, but there are still gags, like when Halsey says how she knew Cruise was a good guy because he gave her the last parachute when the plane went down and he replies “I thought there was another one”.
If not for other audience members (Hi Callie, Krystal and Katja!) laughing out loud at this I would have missed the gag entirely, and I realise that when the film heads down a darker path, the lighter moments can be harder to spot.
All in all this is a textbook Tom Cruise Popcorn Blockbuster that wanes in patches but overall delivers a hugely entertaining piece of fluff. Spooky fluff at that. I just remembered how good Edge of Tomorrow was, but it bombed, and there is every chance in the world that the haters will make this one relegated to the rare instances where a film that starred Brendan Fraser did better critcially and commercially than a film that starred Tom Cruise.
3 Stars. “The Best Big Screen B Movie Blockbuster In Years”