Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a special forces agent that likes to plunder ancient tombs in his spare time and sell artifacts to the highest bidder. His latest tip leads him and his partner (Jake Johnson) to modern day Iraq where they accidentally unearth the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). An Egyptian Princess that murdered her father and brother, Ahmanet was mummified alive for her sins and buried deep in the desert. When Nick's trigger happy attitude releases Ahmanet's tomb, she puts a curse on him and declares that he is the vessel by which she will unleash an ancient evil on the world.
Before Jurassic World and Fifty Shades of Grey broke box office records, one of the criticisms from those on the outside looking in, was that Universal was lacking in franchises compared to competitors like Disney or Warner Bros.
Little did people know, Universal were cooking up some big plans with 'Dark Universe', a shared monster universe franchise encompassing the classic monster movie characters that gave the studio so much success back in the 1930s. In case the characters alone weren't enough to draw audiences in, Universal have thrown more star power at the franchise than you can shake a stick at.
In order for the franchise to expand of course, the inaugural entry needs to be a success. Thus for The Mummy, Universal turned to the biggest movie star on the planet - Tom Cruise. Here he plays special forces agent Nick Morton, a character not a million miles away from Ethan Hunt but with a fondness for stealing ancient antiquities from tombs and selling them on the black market.
Nick has a trigger happy attitude to life and a penchant for adventure which leads him and his partner Chris (Jake Johnson) to an Iraqi village in search of some treasure despite it being heavily populated by insurgent forces. It's in that very village that the pair stumble upon a tomb belonging to Ahmanet (Boutella), an Egyptian Princess who was mummified alive and imprisoned for her sins. It's Nick's trigger happy attitude that leads to Ahmanet's release and he becomes cursed for his troubles as she decides that he will be her 'chosen' and the vessel by which she will release the evil god, Set. Talk about some bad luck.
Nick then must find a way to evade Ahmanet's relentless pursuit and also break the curse. Something Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) might be able to help with. Though for the most part, all he offers is some heavy exposition to fill the audience in on Ahmanet's back story and exactly what he and his organsiation Prodigium are all about. At least his more vicious alter ego offers up some entertainment.
So is the Cruise version of The Mummy any good? Well, it's fine. It's hard to be overly critical of the film considering the action set pieces are outstanding. The zero gravity plane sequence in particular is really something. Cruise himself is as endearing as always, even if you don't quite buy the scoundrel persona he tries to project. The Mummy herself, Sofia Boutella, is also a plus, bringing a whole new presence to the classic monster character. On top of all that, things do move along at a nice pace which keeps you from getting too bogged down with the film's problems.
And yes, there are problems. For a fast paced blockbuster it really is lacking in humour and bit of playfulness. Aside from one recurring joke about Nick's deficiencies in the bedroom (which will leave you pondering how this sort of joke made it past the first draft of the screenplay) the bulk of the comic relief is left to Jake Johnson's Chris to provide. The filmmakers were clearly hoping that he'd find that comedic spark with Cruise but it often feels very laboured due to a lack of chemistry. Cruise himself gets more laughs on his own when reacting to the danger around him.
A lot of the story hinges on Nick letting out the good man he's supposedly keeping trapped inside of him. At one point his love interest Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), tells him that she knows there's a good man in there somewhere. This probably would have carried more weight had we seen anything up to that point which he suggested he was a bad one. And no, attempting to sneak the odd piece of treasure into his pocket doesn't count.
As intriguing as Boutella is on screen, it can't help but feel like she comes across almost like a stalker ex girlfriend at times in her pursuit of Nick. There was much applause when it was announced that the film would have a female Mummy but that's kind of diminished by the fact that her goal is to release a male god so that she can serve him as his queen. Not exactly empowering for women is it?