Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writers: David Koepp, Dylan Kussman and Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe
Synopsis: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Universal Pictures’ shared monsters universe, called Dark Universe, is finally here. The originators of shared universe are set to bring their monsters back to the big screen in a big way, and they started it all with The Mummy. I’ve been looking forward toward the Dark Universe since it was announced, because I’m a fan of the classic black-and-white horror films and the iconic characters – if you haven’t seen them, I highly recommend you do. So my hope for The Mummy is that it started off the shared universe strong. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely the case. The Mummy stumbles to create the universe off on a strong note, but is there a glimmer of hope? Let’s find out.
The film opens with showing us the history of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and how she got mummified for her terrible actions toward the Pharaoh. We cut to the present and find soldiers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) in Iraq, who after failing to discover a treasure, accidentally discover an ancient and mysterious tomb. This introduces archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), who has been searching for something like this for years. There they discover an ancient sarcophagus that belongs to Ahmanet, and that’s when things start to pick up.
After awakening from a plane crash that he should not have survived from, Nick starts to see visions of Ahmanet telling him he’s chosen for something. This leads Nick and Jenny going to London to meet Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), who runs a mysterious organization called Prodigium, which keeps tabs on the world’s greatest evils and monsters to see how much of a threat they really are. With Ahmanet’s power growing, and Nick’s visions getting worse, everyone is in a race against time to stop Ahmanet from unleashing her fury to the world.
I’ll give The Mummy credit in getting a great cast together. Tom Cruise is already well-versed in big films like this and can handle himself thoroughly. I’ll also give the film credit in trying to make Nick unlikeable to some degree, but of course once everything starts happening to him he changes more than one way. Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet/The Mummy has a great look to her, but is surprisingly underused. Despite being called The Mummy we don’t really see her breakout in her full terror glory like I think the film needed. Sure she does some pretty terrifying things, but never to the point where the build up for her is really worth it.
Annabelle Wallis’ Jenny is more of the straight character here, and isn’t too bad, but overall she doesn’t do too much other than fill us in on the history of everything. However, holding your own against someone like Tom Cruise is a feat on its own. Jake Johnson’s Chris Vail brings the comedy relief, and his chemistry with Cruise is fantastic that I hope these guys do another movie together. Finally, Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll, and yes, his alter ego “Eddie” Hyde – that’s what he calls himself. Crowe and Prodigium will most likely be the connective tissue for the Dark Universe as their headquarters is filled with some noteworthy Easter Eggs. Crowe himself is fine, although it should be interesting to see how his character goes from here. Even with his split personality, his character can go from welcoming to serious, and I don’t know if they were just trying to rush this tease for the bigger scope of shared universe, or if it was written poorly.
The action is okay, although the highly promoted plane sequence is pretty much what we see in the trailers. Personally, my favorite action set-piece is when Mr. Hyde shows up, I won’t get too into it, but it’s pretty cool. However, when it comes to the horror moments they lack the certain tension that the film should have had. Especially considering that it’s already been announced the universe will a mix of horror and action-adventure. While The Mummy has that in full, the execution of it lacks the punch.
Another thing that doesn’t help is the film has a little too much going on. We have the introduction of Prodigium and what they do, Nick’s visions and Ahmanet’s reign of terror that has a subplot attached that doesn’t have enough time to breathe, which is kind of a shame because it could have been awesome to see fleshed out more.
All in all, The Mummy isn’t the best start to Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe but there are glimmers of what could be a good new shared universe. While the film is a bit too packed for its own good, and leaves certain things underdeveloped and underwhelming, The Mummy does have a good cast and some descent action set-pieces to keep you entertained.
3 out of 5