The Mummy 19.06.17
I can't say I wasn't warned. The reviews had been middling to terrible, not least Mark Kermode's, of The Mummy being made up of lots of bits of other movies that made you wish you were watching those instead.
I will be honest from the start, I'm going to include spoilers to this review with the justification that The Mummy is such a limp, lifeless lettuce of a movie – imagine, in fact, a limp, lifeless lettuce with Tom Cruise and a Mummy drawn onto it with a biro – that I really advise you, my reader, to save your money for something else.
And I desperately wanted to enjoy this film. I liked the Mummy trilogy starring Brendan Fraser, John Hannah and Rachel Weisz, thinking their adventures were cute and fun. I also loved the underrated Gothic adventure Van Helsing (2004), a monster mash-up that this new action-horror evidently tries to emulate.
But why does The Mummy fail so badly?
Partly, because it doesn't make sense. And I say this as someone who loves the Underworld franchise, in which vampires and werewolves battle against both each other as well as the sometimes dodgy story-telling. But what Underworld has in its favour is a dreamlike otherworld of night time shadows when the ordinary world is asleep, and where plot holes can be forgiven within the dream-like landscapes. The Mummy, on the other hand, sees its monster emerge in broad daylight, wreaking on London the kind of destruction that reminds you of ISIS-inspired terrorism and Grenfell Tower manslaughter. Call it bad timing, but as you watch the Londoners running in panic down day-lit streets in this movie, you can't help thinking: for this level of danger and death involved with fighting such creatures as the Mummy, wouldn't the powers-that-be have been more security-conscious, not least with their special anti-monster agency?
Speaking of which, the subplot/plot-hole that made least sense in this film, Russell Crowe's special chief-in-search-of-monsters, whom it turns out, is none other than Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, a fact his employers know about, but appear have turned a blind eye to, recruiting him to this hugely important and sensitive position nonetheless. For initially, we see Crowe's character as a debonair MI5 type, a spymaster and master of puppets, leading a special team with government orders into a forgotten crypt. Yet later, on discovery of his true identity, we see him wrestling with Tom Cruise's protagonist in an office with the windows and doors suddenly bolted shut to stop Mr Hyde from escaping, clearly a regular occurrence for those moments when his injections fail. It was at this point that my mind began to turn to how Crowe's Jekyll/Hyde got his job:
HR: Do we give it to Samantha with her double first at Cambridge and thirty years of highly decorated experience in the field, or do we give it to this nineteenth-century psychopath who keeps having to inject himself with some kind of dubiously effective antidote to stop him from turning into a murderous maniac?
So, they've put Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde in charge of a 21st century intelligence agency trying to keep Britain safe.
This is simply the most ridiculous revelation of a film where nothing really comes together. Tom Cruise tries to riff on the theme of scoundrel-with-heroic-potential that worked well in the sci-fi Edge of Tomorrow but simply doesn't come off here. At the end, some kind of self-sacrifice happens which I simply didn't get. He is now doomed to a world of shadows. Except we then see him in Egypt on horseback with his dead friend. Is his friend resurrected? Or is Tom Cruise kind-of undead now? Why are they in Egypt? And on horseback? And where are they riding to? Wasn't Tom in London just a minute ago?
With these thoughts, as the film ended, my mind finally screamed: no, no, no! Didn't Tom, at any stage in the pre-film reading, ask about this confusing ending? Didn't Russell Crowe at some point query how the authorities know he's Jekyll/Hyde but they've put him in charge of a sensitive agency to stop monsters from destroying London and possibly the world? And didn't the fabulously beautiful but underused actress playing the Mummy, Sofia Boutella, complain about why she needed Tom Cruise's character to implement the final spell? Why not any other athletic, handsome guy, like some of the police officers she kills?There are, in fact, so many things at the heart of this film that don't make sense, or don't gel together. I wanted escapism, a fabulous other world. Instead of a shadowy, gothic Mummy, what I got instead was the worst kind of Frankenstein's monster of a film, of things stuck together by several people, without any coherence, one that upon its moment of coming alive, fell apart at the seams.