Monster movies are a creature of habit.
An ancient, antagonistic ‘being’ trapped in some exotic part of the world — read anywhere outside America — is accidentally set free, all pandemonium breaks loose — as do a large number of creepy-crawlies — after it wreaks CGI-heavy havoc on the human race until a smart-ass saviour uses all his rakish charm, handy contrivances, a sassy arm candy and a ever-reliable talisman to avert mass-scale disaster.
What makes them fun, in spite of the monotony, is a genuine, almost foolhardy affection for the absurd and its madcap possibilities.
For all the scale and frills sequel-obsessed studios may inject into such endeavours, at heart it’s still B-grade hokum eager to thrill its audience with a vision so grotesque, it may well be a work of genius.
The Mummy follows the template but forgets to infuse it with the sort of spunk and repartee that made the other Mummy — the one that turned Brendan Fraser into a (short-lived) star nearly two decades back — such a hoot.
Instead this Tom Cruise-led reboot of a reboot, designed to launch the monster rich Dark Universe in Hollywood’s franchise space, is too dull to be cheesy, too silly to scare.
As the longest-lasting action hero, Cruise doesn’t go down without a fight.
He throws in a quip here and there, runs like he’s only ran in his last twenty movies, takes a whole lot of pounding from beauties and beasts and even hat tips to his character in Interview With The Vampire but The Mummy‘s garbled mythology and recycled imagery doesn’t have the wits to complement his popping-from-the-veins enthusiasm.
Cruise plays Nick Morton, a ‘liberator of precious antiquities’ with little patience for ‘archaeological jargon’ but curious concern for the price it could fetch him in the black market.
Along with his sidekick (a goofy but shortchanged Jake Johnson) and a one-night stand (Annabelle Wallis is no Rachel Weisz), who conveniently happens to be an archaeologist, he stumbles upon a tomb in Iraq that triggers the escape and wrath of cruel, power-hungry Egyptian Princess (Sofia Boutella continues to kick ass behind exotic make-up when not looking like she’s walked out of a Michael Jackson music video) mummified alive for her deplorable actions.
If you’ve seen the most recent X-Men: Apocalypse, you know the drill.
Now imagine the same sans the spandex and super powers.
While the creepy, tattoo-faced Princess smooches her way back to life, gaining sporadic control of Morton’s head and turning healthy looking men into video game zombies, director Alex Kurtzman and his drove of writers struggle to sustain its guilty pleasure premise with meat or momentum.
Between rushing from one action set piece to another and pitching Russell Crowe’s dual personality disorder — where the latter looks so pained, like he’d rather be on the sets of The Nice Guys 2 — the two hours-long adventure gets woefully busy and boring.
Undone by its clichés and staleness, the only thing The Mummy does well is confirm there’s something in this world that’s scarier than a monster and it goes by the name of reboot.