After “The Wolfman” and “Dracula Untold” failed to launch the intended Cinematic Universe, Universal has hitched their ride on “The Mummy,” a movie so broadly developed and so utterly stale, that it feels more like a pitch for a movie than an actual movie. So much of “The Mummy” and its tedious, monotonous, lifeless run time is spent propping up storylines, explaining, over explaining, and flash backs. Rather than watching characters experience, and go through the wringer, and develop, Universal spends an enormous amount of time creating this tidy, and sanitary action thriller that is hell bent on establishing the universe its set in, rather than engaging us in an actual movie that is somewhat entertaining of compelling.
Tom Cruise is so painfully miscast here, but an obvious attempt to draw in international audiences, playing a stale adventurer who is a fan of risk taking and jumping in to situations head first, at the peril of his long suffering sidekick. Jake Johnson barely plays a character at all, and is merely just a plot device used to move this plodding and painfully dull movie from point A to point B. There’s not even a good reason why we should root for or against him, as he spends his time bickering with Tom Cruise’s adventurer and plunderer, and then is dropped right in to a derivative sub-plot as a spirit from beyond the grave guiding Cruise’s character Nick Morton. The movie can never decide if it wants to approach the material seriously, or if it wants to create a sense of adventure.
So, the talented Johnson is reduced to a lame zombie like character a la “An American Werewolf in London” but without the sly wit and sarcasm we saw with Griffin Dunne. Cruise’s presence gobbles up any kind of momentum the film reaches, however minimal, acting as more of a character leading events, rather than experiencing them and growing in to this intended superhero (?) that Universal wants him to be for future cinematic appearances. Cruise has zero chemistry with Johnson, is given a stale romance with Annabelle Wallis, and can barely hit a note with Sofia Boutella. Boutella as Ahmanet is barely even able to establish her character as a menace and valid monster, as she’s reduced to more of a background obstacle that character Nick Morton has to battle. The rare times she is on screen she has an odd sexual appeal, but one that director Kurtzman never takes advantage of.
Despite the supernatural elements, the writers are careful to dodge a lot of the more paranormal aspects of the monster, and spend so much more time Nick Morton (literally) running around London, and Egypt, fighting evil bugs, and zombies that look like props from Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” ride. “The Mummy” is so meticulously crafted to be inoffensive, simple, and completely unresolved. You won’t go in to this movie feeling as if you’ve watched a story, you’ll go in with the idea you’re only watching one piece of a humongous puzzle, and I never like to watch a movie that’s more concerned with setting up sequels, rather than giving me what I’m investing time in. There isn’t a single interesting element to this vapid, dull mess, if this is a sign of things to come, the “Dark Universe” should be buried and left to rot beside “Dracula Untold.”