Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Rusell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Chasty Ballesteros, Javier Botet
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Ancient societies the world over practised mummification except that Egypt got a head start in 1922 when British archaeologists excavated the sarcophagus containing the mummy of the boy king Tutankhamen. Ideally then, a character answering to the name of the principal archaeologist Howard Carter could – I shan’t say should – have figured in this Tom Cruise-headlined retelling of the Mummy franchise and first instalment in the Dark Universe film series.
Instead, there’s a Dr Henry Jekyll (played by Russell Crowe) you know the chap who transmutes into his alternate persona, Mr Hyde in R.L.Stevenson’s classic novella. In this action-adventure horror reboot, the good doctor desires to deliver the world from evil and to enlighten the transporters of the bandaged monster, whose earthly avatar was that of a princess in ancient Egypt.
In previous Mummy outings, the monstrous villain is male. This time around, the titular antagonist is not just an overweening ambitious female; she is, sadly, a monster in the flesh. Unearthed by an American military team which includes anthropologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) Halsey, treasure hunter Chris (Jake Johnson) Vail and roguish Sgt. Nick (Tom Cruise) Morton on whom she sets her sights – she even has double the quota of pupils accorded to ordinary humans. “All the better to see you with, my dear” as the Big Bad Wolf told Little Red Riding Hood. But dear Nick, as we have already seen, is no babe in the woods.
He fights fast and furiously with his fists/gun/wits. (It may be noted, gentle reader, Mr Cruise does his own stunts) And so, in keeping with the franchise, Mr Kurtzman and his army of scriptwriters load the supernatural with ample action involving zombies and plagues, indisputably inspired by the account of the Exodus in the Old Testament. Pharaonic Egypt was the setting of the Biblical plagues; now, swinging London bears the brunt of the mummy’s evil.
She, of course, doesn’t quite view her agenda with the ethical binaries of the human heart. She has designs on Mr Morton with a view to acquiring what was denied to her when she was entombed alive in the desert 2,00 years ago. Feminists, I daresay, will detest how the women in the film play out. For the jaded, the stock characters will neither enthuse nor enervate. But for those with a yen for horror and spectacular action, The Mummy (and Cruise) won’t make you snore.