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Review: ‘The Mummy’ Dies a Slow Death

Film misses the mark, but Sofia Boutella shines

The Mummy had a lot going for it from its beginning scenes that showed an interesting backstory, and that makes the fact that it underwhelmed on all accounts feel all the more disappointing. Bad casting, lackluster writing and clichés drive the film right into the ground to the point where not even Sofia Boutella’s mesmerizing performance as the titular character can save the film, try as she might.

Warning! Spoilers for The Mummy (2017) below.

It’s as though The Mummy‘s stars were miscast, chosen for their fame and just given a role that more or less plays to their wheelhouse. The film suffers as a result. Dedicated fans of stars like Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson may have paid to see the movie and driven some sales, but despite the actors’ working with what the script gives them, everyone’s in above their heads thanks to The Mummy‘s boring writing and overall lack of action that completely fails to ever set the film up or deliver a satisfying climax.

Thankfully, Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet (The Mummy) makes the scenes in which she’s present enjoyable. Sadly, these scenes are rather minimal, especially considering she’s the film’s main villain with a plethora of lore behind her begging to be explored further. Boutella manages to elevate the film’s sluggish writing, bringing an innate sense of evil and sexuality to Ahmanet. Flashback scenes of her past are a highlight, as is watching her held prisoner and ultimately breaking free to lay waste to the city around her.

Tom Cruise underwhelms in his lead role of Nick Morton. Can he just not handle an action movie anymore? The Mummy appears to indicate so…throughout the film’s runtime, there is perhaps only one fast-paced chase at the start, and the film’s ending battle is more of a sprinting race than a marathon.

Worst of all, there’s an utterly gratuitous scene featuring Cruise naked and sleepwalking that offers nothing to the plot’s backstory and doesn’t drive the story forward either. The attempt to overtly sexualize Cruise is laughable, although it could perhaps be appreciated considering the film does a good job at not sexualizing its female actors.

Cruise’s sidekick, Chris Vail, is played by Jake Johnson, which is arguably the most annoying character in the film (and probably one of the most annoying in recent film history that I can recall.) There’s so many awful attempts at humor thrown at the audience from this character that they throw the entire film even further off course. There may have been a hope for Chris Vail, but not with Jake Johnson behind him. If you’ve seen an episode of New Girl, you’ve seen him in just about all his other roles. There’s no range to the character, and I’d say his unfunny shtik died back in 2013 when New Girl started to take a turn for the cliché. Even when his character dies, he manages to come back as a mummified illusion enough times to induce multiple groans.

That’s another thing that plunges The Mummy into oblivion: cliché. The character of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) is so…cringeworthy and obvious that his very inclusion is an obvious insult to the viewer. There’s absolutely no surprise when Dr. Henry becomes possessed by the mummy and turns into the raging ‘Jekyll.’ Seriously? Did the writers of this film have a checklist of awful things they needed to include and needed to check off ‘reference to a previous work of pop culture?’

Annabelle Wallis works with what the script gives her when it comes to her performance as Jenny Halsey, opposite Cruise as his love interest. Halsey is likable enough, with a dash of spunk that could’ve made her standout more if it had been used to good effect. The Mummy chose not to make her an archetype spunky female sidekick and restrained itself, but the reigns were pulled in too tightly and Halsey is instead just moderately defiant and wholly forgettable.

The film’s climax seems to never arrive. The Mummy frees herself from her binds and proceeds to go around destroying everything that meets the eye. The stage is set for an epic and satisfying battle that could’ve saved The Mummy‘s underwhelming hour and a half before it. It just never delivers. How is the film resolved? Tom Cruise’s character is given a decision to make. Does he join Ahmanet and have the power of life over death or does he vanquish her and end her never ending tyranny?

Morton all too painfully glances over at the dead body of Halsey and makes his decision. He goes in for a kiss with Ahmanet, and sucks the life out of her. Her corpse shrivels, but now the cursed mummy lives inside him. That’s it. No epic confrontation, no satisfyingly slain mummy. In the last few seconds, the entire film is just wrapped up and that’s that. Even worse? With the power of life over death, Morton brings the insufferable Chris Vail back to life (along with Halsey.) The only redeeming factor of Morton’s decision is the glimmer of hope that a sequel is unlikely, seeing as this incarnation of The Mummy franchise has now died a slow and painfully obvious death.

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Written by Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the creator and editor of POParazzi. He works primarily in Washington, DC. You can contact him at sam@poparazzi.org and visit his portfolio at sam-bennett.com.

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