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Review: ‘The Mummy’ needs its priorities reordered Special

Posted Jun 11, 2017 by Sarah Gopaul
‘The Mummy’ fails to remember who the story’s star is and consequently allows the most interesting part of the movie to be sidelined.
Sofia Boutella stars in  The Mummy
Sofia Boutella stars in 'The Mummy'
Universal Pictures
It’s no longer unusual to see studios looking for new ideas to reach back into their histories and reboot old ideas or franchises. For many who’ve watched the originals, this ranges from a minor irritation to an outright offense. But the reality persists and it’s arguably unfair to judge a movie before watching it, or to carry preconceptions into a screening. So (almost) every picture deserves a fair shake, but then it’s open season. The latest film up for reboot judgement is The Mummy and it seems there may have been a good film in there somewhere.
Stationed in Iraq, American Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) has spent most of his deployment treasure hunting with his trusty sidekick, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). When he comes across a map to long forgotten riches, he risks life and limb to access it. However, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), the map’s owner, identifies the site as the burial ground of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient princess with evil power. Opening her tomb unleashes the demon within and curses Nick to be her chosen. Now with the help of a society of monster hunters, they must try to put Ahmanet back in her cage before she can release death upon the world.
This film introduces an entirely new Egyptian creature with more stylish bandages and tattoos. There is at least one nod to its Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz predecessor, but other than a sandstorm and a need for pest control they have little in common. As the first film in what is expected to be a revival and reimagining of the Universal monster franchise, this movie is trying to find its place in the greater universe. Unfortunately, it makes the mistake of other pictures with similar ambitions by focusing too much on the future and not on making a good film now.
The first act, which recounts Ahmanet’s backstory and the uncovering of her burial site, are unequivocally the best part of the movie. Her character is the most intriguing in the film, dead or alive. She exudes power and hate, moving with confidence in her abilities and determined to make her dreams a reality. On the other hand, Cruise seems mismatched and relies on the arcs of other action heroes he’s played to inform this one. While a lesser known actor may not have had the star power the studio desired to carry the franchise forward, there was likely someone else better suited for the role. Similarly, shoehorning Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde character into this narrative feels contrived and, more importantly, unnecessary — he could be lifted out of the movie entirely and not be missed.
The need to push Nick to the forefront as the film’s hero and use this picture as a springboard for future projects subjugates the more interesting aspects of the story and overwhelms what could have been a better plot.
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis