Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: “The Mummy” as Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible: The Walking Dead”


You can’t say the “The Mummy” isn’t diverting entertainment. I know everyone wants to kill it (it can’t be killed, got it?) but there’s some measure of fun in Alex Kurtzman’s 3D romp through the desert of northern Iraq.

Yes, the sand dunes look like they were sampled from “Ishtar.” Some of the dialogue, too. The new “Mummy” is an action film a la “Mission Impossible” populated by zombies (think “Walking Dead”) with strains of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” playing in the background. It’s also the launch of Universal’s new, forced “Dark Universe” series meant to compete with Marvel and DC Comics.

Tom Cruise is kinda working for the US army but at the same time an acknowledged antiquities thief. The great Courtney B. Vance plays a general who’s looking the other way while Tom and his buddy (Jake Johnson from “The New Girl”) are are pillaging historic sites. OK. Blonde Annabelle Wallis is an English archeologist who’s — we learn this from early exposition– already slept with Tom’s character. They have zero chemistry while discussing this. She says their passion in the desert lasted 15 seconds, and you believe her.

In short order they discover an Egyptian ruin in Iraq. OK. And there’s a sarcophagus with a mummy inside. We’ve learned earlier in a long prologue that the mummy contains a murderous Egyptian princess with long dark tresses played by beautiful Sofia Boutella. Of course, once the sarcophagus is moved all hell breaks loose, Sofia breaks loose and wants to mate with Tom. (This never happens, btw.)

We do meet Russell Crowe, looking like he’s been to the taxidermist. He plays Dr. H. Jekyll (no kidding) who says he’s an expert on evil and wants to contain it and destroy it. Sometimes he’s Jekyll, other times he’s Hyde. (Don’t spend a lot of time on his motivation.)

Take “The Mummy” for what it is– a popcorn movie. The 3D is very good, even if the whole movie is a little dark and murky. There’s no question that it moves, and the set pieces with Cruise– aka Ethan Hunt from “MI”– blowing out of planes, blowing up, etc. are fun to watch.

What’s kind of scary though is that even with workouts and “work,” Tom Cruise is finally looking a little tired, and for the first time, older. His eyes are like slits; all character has been removed either by a surgeon or an FX editor. His trademark grin is weary at best. And compared to “Wonder Woman” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Mummy” feels like a movie from a long time ago.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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