Movie Review: Tom Cruise Makes ‘The Mummy’ Worth Reviving
The cinematic folklore of The Mummy dates back decades. The good news is we have come a long way in resurrecting the look of the mummy (which began with pieces of surgical cloth wrapped around his body). The mummy (Arnold Vosloo) in the Brendan Fraser trilogy beginning in 1999 with The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and wrapping up with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008 evolved into a ghost-like figure with a bandaged head ejecting beetles from its mouth.
With technology rising and CGI you would think our imaginations could conjure terrifying spin-offs of this monster movie. In this revamped issue of The Mummy she’s a badass woman — Egyptian Princess Ahmanet — played by Algerian actress Sofia Boutella. The character was enhanced by visual effects supervisor Erik Nash. This 5,000-year-old tattooed with hieroglyphics has concentric pupils. And she literally sucks the life out of humans to regain her earthly form.
She assembles an army of zombie mummies to help her. Their missing pieces of flesh, gouged-out eyes, and exposed bone make you think of the zombies from The Walking Dead, but not half as grotesque.
The screenplay, by David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie, is a mash-up of ancient and modern times shrouded in schmaltzy dialogue. It begins in 12th century England where an ancient tomb filled with coffins of crusader knights is discovered. Narrated in voiceover by Russell Crowe, we are taken through the Egyptian Prayer of Resurrection and origins of Ahmanet. She was mummified alive for murdering her family when she was passed over to become pharaoh by the birth of a son.
Crowe also plays mad scientist Dr. Jekyll. His legend of turning into Hyde is just plopped into the story — perhaps because part of the film takes place in London.
Before the action, we meet Tom Cruise as Nick Morton and his partner in crime Jake Johnson as Chris Vail. They are a pair of long range reconnaissance soldiers in Iraq who hunt for antiquities. They accidentally unearth Ahmanet — amid explosions all around them they somehow manage to dodge unscathed — and a sandquake reveals her final resting place.
At the speed limit-age of 55, Cruise is in top form where there are no limits to what he can do. Even Ahmanet is impressed. In a scene where she seduces him to join the dark side, she coos approvingly at his six-pack abs.
The action in The Mummy revolves around Cruise, who appears to be out of control and uncomfortable with the task of saving the world, and the archaeologist Jenny Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis. The two share a breath-holding zero-gravity sequence tumbling around a plunging plane that is airlifting the sarcophagus carrying Ahmanet.
The “Zero-Gravity Stunt Fact Sheet” from Universal touts Cruise’s “90 percent practicality” record in accomplishing stunts. The Mummy director/producer Alex Kurtzman created an exciting sequence where “pilots and astronauts of Novespace Airbus (A-310) took the company 20,000 feet high where they climbed rapidly to a 50-degree angle to just over 25,000 feet; there, the plane reduced thrust, and free fell from the sky. For 22-23 seconds during the ballistic phase, the company felt weightless.”
If not for Cruise and his death-defying mastery of stunts, this highly-anticipated movie would not be worth reviving.