The Mummy wants to be a horror movie, an action movie, and kick off an entire universe at the time same — and accomplishes none of those things.
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Summary: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.
The concept of the shared universe is not a new one. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought it to the mainstream, the shared universe happened decades before with the classic Universal monster movies. The concept of the shared universe is now all the rage, so it was time for the monsters to come back.
It started out promising when they cast Sofia Boutella as the Mummy, but when Tom Cruise got on board, there was a little confusion. As the trailers dropped, the overriding consensus became: "Why is Tom Cruise in this movie?" Now that the movie is out, that question still remains. This is a film that wanted to do too much at once and in its attempt to please three different audiences, ends up giving a mediocre performance to all three.
The moment when this becomes apparent is about halfway through what should be a fairly tense scene. The entire movie grinds to a halt so it can drop some exposition on you, and it is jarring. It stops everything to introduce this version of S.H.I.E.L.D., drops about ten million Easter eggs that are about as subtle as a 2×4 to the face, and introduces Nick Fury a la Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe). This creates a structural mess that makes the movie's second act feel about three hours long as we wait for the action to start up again.
It would be nice if that went somewhere, but the battles in London that the movie's marketing has been pushing just aren't interesting. This is a world that feels empty, so watching a bunch of sand destroy a city elicits no emotional response; it leads instead to boredom. We see our Mummy destroying things and making a dull version of henchmen to kill a bunch of people we don't care about.
Boutella tries to do something with the role, and the look of her is interesting on a visual level. When the movie decides that it wants to be about its title character, it gets a little better, but it isn't enough.
They do an admirable job of trying to make her seem sympathetic, but it's ultimately undercut by the acts of murder we see her commit in the beginning. There is no faster way to make the audience lose any shred of sympathy for a villain than for them watch her kill a baby. They don't even do anything interesting with the fact that she's a powerful woman who refuses to give in to cliched gender roles. To get into it in detail would be a spoiler, but instead of creating a complex female villain, the film saddles her with every "crazy bitch" stereotype out there.
Cruise and Annabelle Wallis are both such boring blank slates that their names aren't even worth knowing. The only person who seems in on the joke that is this movie is Jake Johnson, but his screen time is minimal.
The Mummy has a lot of talent on hand, but it wastes it with a mess of a screenplay and exposition as it tries to build a shared universe. When the movie decides it wants to focus on its title character it gets a little better, but then it's right back to the two boring non-entities who are supposed to be our main characters.
This is not a good start to this universe; but then again, it took DC three bad movies before they figured it out. These are classic characters that deserve better than this generic action movie with no idea what it wants to be, what it's trying to accomplish, or why any of us should care.