SOFIA BOUTELLA as Ahmanet in a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: "The Mummy." Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

The Mummy Struggles to Resurrect Its Bygone Charm

My inner kid really wanted to like Universal Pictures’ remake of The Mummy. As the leading film in the studio’s new Dark Universe series, it began with good bones. Or in Mummy terms, a good burial. But sadly, the rest of the film just couldn’t maintain.

In present-day Iraq, we’re introduced to military officer Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) in the bro-est way possible. For a second, it’s less Mummy and more Mission: Impossible as he and buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) careen around corners, blind fire rifles and Michael Bay it all the way home. They’re treasure hunters, the film begs us to believe, forcing the characters to continuously remind us through half-assed dialogue. In the midst of Vail and Nick’s shenanigans, they accidentally uncover an underground tomb that contains the remains of the mummy Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who’s itching to wake up from her eon-long tomb nap.

Annabelle Wallis’ Jenny Halsey practically drops into the scene, ready to explore like a blonder, less-developed version of Rachel Weisz’s Evie O’Connell. Through incredibly stilted banter, it’s established that Nick and Jenny have a romantic history. Yet if you stepped out of the theater for popcorn, you would never know it. Interactions between them border on lukewarm, hardly a simmer. Forget the longing glances or the inflections in the tone, nothing between these two spells out love or even lust. The relationship, at its best, is a plot device for a plot that’s half-baked.

Ahmanet (who Nick has way more chemistry with, by the way) embodies everything an Egyptian princess should be. But as a villain, she pales in comparison to former mummies. Her scenes lack suspense and due to that, our belief in her power wanes. We aren’t afraid of her, even as she’s calling down a sandstorm on London.

The Mummy spends the last 40 minutes of the film not so much wrapping itself up, but setting up its sequel. And that’s where it makes its largest misstep: assuming it’ll have one. The climax becomes a rushed mess of introducing extra characters (where’d you come from Russell Crowe?!) and foreshadowing future films. Sharks were jumped here, and it shows in the tattered loose ends The Mummy leaves behind.

★★✩✩✩

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