Tom Cruise can *really* run. Had the actor’s blockbusters been anymore recent, his running meme would be more popular than his colleague, Leonardo DiCaprio. In all these years, I’ve seen him bolt past Colin Farell and the entire PreCog unit, chase down cabbie Jamie Foxx using the emergency exit, tear through the crowd of a flower market in Shanghai, pursue a nuclear terrorist outside Burj Khalifa with zero visibility and in Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy flee a sandstorm in Central London. There’s no denying the many talents of Tom Cruise as he remains one of the biggest action stars in the world, even at the age of 54.
He is a competent actor too. And it is important to remember that as he dissolves into set pieces which involve him hanging outside an airplane, holding his breath under water for nearly 6 mins, bungee-jumping between some of the world’s tallest buildings or whooshing past wastelands in a fancy motorbike. The actor might not owe it to himself, but the fans that he has accumulated over the past 3 and a half decades deserve better films. The Mummy follows the template of a Tom Cruise movie with such earnestness, it could make even his most devoted fans frown and ask ‘is that all?’
So here we have our leading man playing a ‘soldier of fortune’ who cries out to his friend ‘where is your sense of adventure?’ and jogs into enemy territory. Obviously outnumbered, he quickly summons an airstrike, bombing the shit out of a village in Northern Iraq, so that he can ‘secure’ some ‘valuable antiquities from falling into the hands of the enemy’. Like the earlier Mummy movies might have taught us – you don’t touch 5000-year old tombs, ‘cos it just never ends well. Obviously our man here, obsessed with being the manlier version of Ron Swanson, didn’t get the memo. He casually shoots the ropes of a pulley mechanism which reveals the tomb of Egyptian Princess Ahmanet, and life will never be the same again.
The biggest problem with the film is not with its technical specifications. Well choreographed action-sequences, and decent special effects is something we have come to expect from a movie whose credits include ‘Tom Cruise’. The Mummy doesn’t dazzle its audience even once during its running time of 107 minutes, and painfully meanders between predictable and boring. Even in a nicely orchestrated zero-gravity plane crash, the only thing that remained with me was Cruise’s sullen expression as he opens the parachute hatch of his love interest, and then willingly kamikazes into suburban London.
The gag of an ageing action hero stopped being funny last decade – like the one where the love interest coaxes Cruise to beat the shit out of the main antagonist. That’s when the antagonist sends him to seventh heaven, after which he lands conveniently in front of his love interest, for those two quick cuts of their befuddled expressions. We’re living in a post-Deadpool era for god sake.
One of the few silver linings of the movie is Russell Crowe’s character of Dr Jekyll/Edward Hyde. Playing the iconic character from the books, Crowe is extremely efficient with his dual personality. He doesn’t waste a single breath, as he becomes the director’s tool for exposition, when he gets posed with the question ‘Who the hell are you?’ by an anxious Tom Cruise. There is the character of a dead best friend which takes the film into a semi-zombie parody zone. Both the women in the film get the same treatment that anyone else in a Tom Cruise film gets. One needs saving (Annabelle Wallis) while the other plays the seductress (a ravishing Sofia Boutella).
One reason why I really enjoyed the original Mummy film, was the unabashed good time it delivered on. Giving us that icky feeling as an insect penetrates the skin and crawls within only to be plucked out by a knife, the original also succeeded in nailing the urgency of an adventure film. Unfortunately, this reboot reeks of being a studio product. It *feels* carefully trimmed and groomed to suit the tastes of the mythical ‘masses’. The film doesn’t bear a single personal embellishment of director Alex Kurtzman, like his feature film debut People Like Us, and that’s a shame because the Chris Pine-starrer was at the very least a sincerely written story.
One might think that with the influence of being one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Cruise would be more responsible with his choices. To which his argument could be a MASSIVE ‘I don’t care’ sign on his forehead. With a budget of $125 million, he could back a 100 Moonlights or 15 Manchester By The Seas, like his crusader colleagues Brad Pitt and Matt Damon respectively. Now only if Tom Cruise stopped playing the ‘hero’ for once and spilled his insecurities on screen, it would be a welcome change. A smaller hand, which would help him get over his fear of losing.
The Mummy might go on to make money or not, it is a known fact that The Dark Universe will be forced down our throats anyway. Let’s just hope it is much better than the drivel we’ve been subjected to in this first film. Luke Evans as Count Dracula and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster? What’s not to be excited about?