Tom Cruise has ‘Mummy’ issues


Special To The Japan Times

‘The Mummy” begins with one main premise: Tom Cruise still has it. It ends with a promise: Tom Cruise will always have it. Assuming you’re on board with those statements, you’ll have a blast.

On its own, however, “The Mummy” is pretty weird. It’s like a high-speed blender that mixes equal parts action flick, zombie thrills and archaeological lore in the hope that the result will be a delicious blockbuster smoothie. Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite happen. In his eagerness to cram everything into the mix, director Alex Kurtzman (“Transformers”) loses his grip on some key plot lines, leaving the audience spinning in a dizzy whirl of “Huh?”

The Mummy (Za Mami: Norowareta Sabaku no Ojo)
Run Time 110 mins
Language ENGLISH

To be fair, Kurtzman had a lot on his plate. “The Mummy” kicks off Universal Pictures’ so-called Dark Universe, which has the studio reviving its iconic monster movie franchises and presenting them in new guises. That means “The Mummy” had double duty as a megahit that could stand on its own and the first salvo in a Halloween-themed line of movies in the style of the “X-Men” and “Justice League” franchises. The pressure to open on a high note must have been tough, but luckily Kurtzman had a secret weapon: Tom Cruise — flashing that charming grin and assuring him of box-office bank.

To be clear, Cruise isn’t actually that good in “The Mummy,” but he has reached a point in his career where good or bad is almost beside the point — his mere presence is enough. The man is 55 and he can nonchalantly show off his naked body, let his gorgeous dark hair blow with abandon inside a broken plane hurtling through the sky and race across an African desert on horseback.

Cruise plays Sgt. Nick Morton, an American soldier in present-day Iraq whose side job is looting antiquities, and it’s clear he loves stealing things just as much as he likes calling for airstrikes against insurgents. In Baghdad he falls for archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) while plundering buried treasure. They stumble on the ancient crypt of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a princess who murdered her family and made a pact with the god of death. Trouble begins after Nick and Jenny open up her tomb — their plane crashes, Nick’s pal Chris turns into a zombie and Ahmanet rises from the dead.

In 1999 Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz starred in a version of “The Mummy” that went on for two more installments, not to mention a video game and short film. Despite some interesting plot twists — and maybe thanks to some unfortunate CG effects — the franchise took its toll on Fraser’s career and the mummy’s reputation in general.

But this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about, hallucinating about having sex with an Egyptian princess while driving a truck through a forest and getting shot at by the London police. If anyone can resurrect “The Mummy,” it has got to be him. If it’s not, well, at least “The Mummy” pulls out all the stops when it comes to CG.

If that’s not enough for you, Russell Crowe makes an appearance as Dr. Henry Jekyll, who studies ancient curses in a lab underneath the British Museum. I wonder if he has come across the one that dooms him to a future of Dark Universe sequels?