Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Spoilers will unravel your bandages!
So way back in good old Egyptian times, we had a Princess. She was Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), and she was meant to rule the land of Egypt after her father Pharoah was gone, right? Wrong! Despite all her training and destiny and junk, as soon as her father had a son, all bets are off and Princess Ahmanet goes from would-be Demigoddess of Egypt to vengeful demon-summoning killer witch. She makes a deal with the Egyptian equivalent of the Devil, in this particular movies’ case the Egyptian God Set is the chosen evil one, and does the whole offering up her life and soul bit in exchange for power to crush her enemies and lay waste to humanity. Like Egyptians do, yknow.
Obviously Pharoahs court takes issue with these plans, and a bunch of Priests manage to subdue Ahmanet and truck her mummified-alive body far away from Egypt, to be buried in a very thorough prison hopefully for all eternity. Now, some thousands of years later, former military guy turned treasure-hunting thief Nick Morton and his pal Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are off in war-torn Iraq to track down rumors of a great relic hoard, and of course stumble across Ahmanet’s un-resting place.
Aided by Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), a proclaimed archaeologist whom Nick is already far too familiar with, the uncovered crypt is explored and of course everyone wants to take the recovered sarcophagus back to London for study. Elsewhere in London is a mass tomb of Knights Templars, who apparently had dealings with Egypt so long ago and were familiar with the legend of Ahmanet to the point where they separated her sacred dagger of Set from its summoning stone, to prevent her from unleashing evil on the world. Ahmanet’s already chosen her new Chosen One, the man whom she’ll sacrifice to get Set into the world, and as was inevitable, her choice has fallen on Nick. Some killer birds in a Hitchcockian style later, and the plane carrying the sarcophagus has fallen from the sky, only to have an unharmed Nick wake in the freaking morgue.
And hey, it just so happens that that Templar crypt where the gemstone of the Set dagger was hidden, is nearby-ish. At this point there’s been a fair amount of action sequences, what with falling out of the plane and the car ride through mummy-infested forests and all. Then we have a whole bunch of confrontation at the crypt itself, where I couldn’t help but question the plausibility that Mummy-Ahmanet could command the undead Knights to rise and serve her, but whatever – it looks awesome. And that’s what matters, right? This Universal rebooting their entire monster-verse movie seems to think so for much of it. But then, right in the middle of some nifty fighting scenes, Ahmanet actually gets taken and in walks Russell Crowe’s character, who turns out to be, wait for it, Dr. Henry Jekyll.
Yes, that Dr. Jekyll, as we see when he shoots up his treatment of preventing-Hyde juice, even while talking to Nick. His lab and holding facility, especially the specimen room (that tellingly shows, among other things, a Creature from the Black Lagoon arm and a vampire fanged skull in jars) is among some of the best storyline scenes in the movie. So the good-bad Doc has trussed Ahmanet up so he can study her, which will of course mean eventual dissection, as Jekyll tries to rationally explain to Nick, who doesn’t take too kindly to being used as a hunting dog. That the Demon Mummy Queen would get out of this setup and wreak havoc was inevitable, but it made most of Jekyll’s supposedly grand defenses look weak and ill-prepared for an actual capture.
Eventually, after much running and fighting and swimming (yes, I know, just go with it), it comes down to Nick having to make a very heavy choice. Will he finally grow a soul, and perhaps a pair too, and do the right thing at the cost of himself? Will he join the evil Mummy Goddess and rule the world? The answer may surprise you, it made me raise an eyebrow.
Yes, the visuals and the Mummy CGI and the fight scenes are all spectacular, you bet. The story itself is kind of all over the place, including bits and pieces from earlier Mummy origin films but struggling to stay true to its own particular style. Where the whole thing stumbles hard is Cruises’ character Nick. We all know TC is an action star, there’s no debating that. It’s just that the character the movie has him play, is so empty, so totally devoid of originality or anything resembling a personality, literally anyone could play him. We didn’t need T.C. in the Mummy reboot to love it, the Universal folks seem to be trying a little too hard. Supposedly this movie is meant to reboot the entire Universal monsters movie line, but perhaps we can hope the next one is a little less bombastic. Rumor has it the next scheduled Dark Universe monster movie scheduled is Bride of Frankenstein, so we’ll see.
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