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The Mummy movie review: Dead, decaying, badly bandaged. The worst Tom Cruise film ever

The Mummy movie review: The Dark Universe of monster movies kicks off with the tragically terrible The Mummy. This is the worst film of Tom Cruise’s career.

movie reviews Updated: Jun 16, 2017 14:41 IST
Rohan Naahar
Tom Cruise is thinking.
Tom Cruise is thinking.

The Mummy
Director - Alex Kurtzman
Cast - Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Sofia Boutella
Rating - 0.5/5

Unpleasant as it may sound, it is nonetheless a truth that these days, we are peddled movies in a manner similar to the local fast food joint convincing you to go for that combo meal instead of just the cheapest thing on the menu. For the price of one movie, we are promised numerous unsolicited sequels, prequels, spinoffs and soft reboots – whether we like it or not.

It’s as if the studios are over-compensating. It’s as if they already know they need to add bells and whistles to what they’re selling to brighten up the deal.

The Mummy is exactly that. On paper, it’s as corporate as movies can get in this current landscape of endless interconnected universes. But for a moment, through the fog of cynicism, there was hope. You see, it had history on its side. The initial burst of Universal Monster movies – films like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the original Mummy – lasted three decades, through the silent era and into the age of the talkies, and made stars out of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr. It was, in many ways, the original shared universe; one that laid the foundation for the trend we’re witnessing these days.

But don’t blame The Mummy. Don’t even blame Marvel, and their decade-long, industry-altering series of cross-connected films. Blame its ancestors.

As dismal things are, as dismal as things can be, if there is one thing we can be sure of in this world, it is that Tom Cruise never gives a bad performance. In fact, he often brightens up some movies that would no doubt have been rather terrible were it not for his hubristic thirst to push himself with every role.

It is with great pain then, that I inform you that the era of barely-passable Tom Cruise movies has come to an end. Gone are the days of The Last Samurai, Oblivion, Jack Reacher and Knight and Day. And gone, most definitely, are the days of Risky Business, A Few Good Men, Collateral, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky, Edge of Tomorrow, Mission Impossible III, and Tropic Thunder – objectively the best Tom Cruise movies ever. We are now entering into uncharted territory – a land where a Tom Cruise movie can exist, and elicit nothing more than a sleepy shrug.

Welcome to the Dark Universe, a new world of gods and monsters.

The Mummy, its first film, fails on every level, and others we haven’t yet arrived at. It follows in the tradition of the Mummy movies that came before. Cruise plays a vaguely-defined soldier of some sort, who inadvertently reawakens the evil Princess Ahmanet, and immediately gets cursed. He then spends the rest of the film trying to swat away Ahmanet’s advances in what plays out like the most uncomfortable stalker-prey romance in recent memory. Desperate for help, chased by zombies and mice, he arrives at the doorstep of Dr Jekyll, played in an extended cameo by Russell Crowe.

Unfortunately, in case you haven’t guessed yet, The Mummy is as bland as the name they’ve given Cruise’s character. Nick Morton. Nick Morton. Let that sink in. Nick Morton. Agreed, no one plays a blue collar, salt of the earth type better than Cruise, but this is taking it too far. Especially since his character here is hardly someone you’d catch in a Ford factory.

He is, however, literally the most thinly-written person Cruise has ever played in his life. Sample this piece of dialogue between him and his friend/comedic relief character from his first scene in the film. To set the stage for you; The duo have decided, on the spur of the moment, to engage what appear to be ISIS terrorists in a gunfight. The bad guys are shooting up a monument, and this is what they gave Cruise, one of the greatest action stars in the history of movies, as an excuse for a script:

VAIL (Jake Johnson): We’re going to die!NICK (Cruise): Let me think!

VAIL: What?!
NICK: Let me think!

VAIL: What are you thinking?!
NICK: (Pauses) Let me think!

VAIL: What?!
NICK: I think we’re going to die here!

VAIL: I knew it!

Shakespeare, I am sure you’d agree, would be swelling with pride.

So here’s what wrong with this movie – besides the symphonic back-and-forth you just read. It’s sexist. It’s also very racist. The characters are so poorly written, we don’t know a thing about them aside from what their most immediate goal is. It’s cringe-inducingly unfunny when it tries to joke, and it’s hysterical when it tries to be serious.

It’s biggest blasphemy however, is that robs Tom Cruise of his heroism.

It is categorically the worst movie of Tom Cruise’s career. Sitting through it was a pain unlike any other. One can only hope that this awakens something in Cruise, much like Ahmanet, and sends his career down a new path. He’s 54 now. He can’t run forever.

Watch the Mummy trailer here

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar