The Mummy isn't just a bad film. The Mummy is an epically bad film. The Mummy is the kind of film that destroys careers and deservedly so, though it's unlikely to have any such impact on a star like Tom Cruise whose record prior to The Mummy has been nearly impeccable if only at the box-office.
The Mummy is so godawful that I picture Tom Cruise sitting in some auditing room somewhere at this moment right now confessing to some previously undisclosed past life trauma that surely must be to blame for this gargantuan misfire that is practically guaranteed to have the Razzie folks celebrating at finally being able to list cruise among their nominees.
The Mummy is the worst film of 2017 so far. The Mummy is, without question, the worst film of Tom Cruise's career, a film so freakishly bad that giving it zero stars actually feels a little bit generous. When the studio rep e-mailed shortly after the screening to get feedback, my only response was "There wasn't a single minute in the film that I was entertained."
I wasn't kidding. I wasn't exaggerating. Despite one of my film critic friends referring to me as a "hater" of mainstream cinema, I'm most certainly not just hating. I wanted to like The Mummy, the film selected by Universal Pictures to kick off its foray into Dark Universe, a contemporary revisiting of Universal's monsters from the past. Despite a trailer that looked abysmal, I wanted to believe that Cruise would do what Cruise always seems to do - elevate a motion picture even if only elevating it to mediocrity.
I didn't want to believe that a Tom Cruise motion picture could be this bad.
It's not just that The Mummy is awful. It's that Tom Cruise in The Mummy is awful.Tom Cruise is so awful in The Mummy that it's almost as if the ghost of Michael Caine has penetrated his brain and about ten minutes into the film he just plain gives up. Cruise is so bad here that I kind of feel like we should all call up Brendan Fraser and welcome him back to Hollywood. Seriously.
While some critics have given The Mummy a bit of a break, I'm sorry but when your budget is estimated to be $125 million you don't get to fall back on any "we're intentionally a B-movie" crap. The Mummy just plain sucks. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'll be thrilled for you if you actually enjoy yourself watching The Mummy but, I can't lie, I'll be quietly judging you.
In the film, Cruise plays the instantly and forever unlikable Nick Morton, an American soldier in Iraq who works alongside buddy Chris (Jake Johnson) in a sideline business of finding rare antiquities that he can sell for a profit.
So, basically, he's a looter of world history that we're supposed to think is awesome because he's Tom Cruise and he's 'Murican.I didn't like him. At all. Ever. Not for a single second in the film.
1,000 miles from Egypt, Nick and Chris stumble across a sarcophagus drowning in mercury and invaded by spiders. Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), a just happen to be on the scene archaeologist, gives us a few minutes of mindless exposition explaining that what they've discovered is bad, like really and totally bad, and it's NOT a tomb but a prison. In a matter of moments, she manages to piece together that this tomb, 'er sorry, prison, must contain one Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), whose history has been lost to, well, history for reasons not disclosed for a few more minutes. The heavily tattooed and skeletal Ahmanet, seen in the trailers, has inadvertently been freed by Nick's greed and sets out searching for the dagger with a red jewel that will allow her to new favorite boytoy and transfer Set, the god of death, into him and, well, you get the idea.
Did I mention that we also get Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe)? In the closest thing to actual camp in the film, Crowe plays Jekyll as the man he is - a guy who requires regular injectable medications to avoid turning into a rather beastly, and godawfully made up, monster of sorts.
There isn't a single moment of The Mummy that works, not even with Cruise's trademark smile and obligatory running scenes and, no, not even when he takes off his shirt.
And he does.
God, I wish I looked that good at 50.
Directed by Alex Kurtzman, whose only other directorial effort was the modestly entertaining Chris Pine weeper People Like Us, The Mummy is abysmal from point one and simply never improves. The tone is wildly uneven, Jake Johnson, strangely enough, giving the film's best performance but it feels like it belongs in an entirely different film.
How does that even happen? I suppose one could blame the fact that Kurtzman took over the reins from Len Wiseman, though as a studio if you're going to hand over the reins of a $125 million film you really should make sure the director has a clue what they're doing. The Mummy is a CGI disaster, an absolute waste of 3-D, and contains the most laughably godawful dialogue from its screenplay by committee that I've been forced to watch in quite some time. Crowe is saddled with the worst of the dialogue and appears so completely oblivious to it that we're not really sure if he's acting brilliantly or just kind of going "WTF? I pictured acting with Cruise having a little more substance."
The truth is there's not a single good performance in The Mummy. Cruise appears to give up early in the film, his never likable character never getting the redemption we've come to expect from a Cruise character. Oh sure, there's a feeble attempt at that redemption, but it fails miserably and rather comically. Boutella's performance doesn't amount to much more than preening and posing and doing her best Rihanna imitation, while Annabelle Wallis never gives any sign of a spark with Cruise and can't make sense of her archaeo-babble dialogue. The film's production design is so dark it's as if we've stumbled into an M. Night film and the film's wildly uneven tone means the comedy isn't funny, the horror isn't horrifying, the romance isn't romantic and the action isn't even remotely exciting with the possible exception of a flight sequence that feels like it ends before it begins.
The Mummy isn't even a film that's so bad that it's good. It's just a plain bad film that hopefully doesn't set the tone for Dark Universe motion pictures to come. While opening weekend box-office may still show promise given Cruise's box-office appeal, one can't help but think that The Mummy is going to need major global receipts to even come close to breaking even.
The Mummy is truly painful to watch, a film so awkwardly constructed and amateurishly produced that one marvels at the favor that Cruise must've owed someone to involve himself in a film that fails so badly and in so many ways. With across the board laughably bad performances and an uninvolving story, The Mummy lays claim to a 2017 Razzie sweep and serves as a reminder that even Scientology's most evolved human being can have a really, really bad day.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic