There are a number of ways to mitigate a miserable movie. You can admire the goals the filmmaker set out to achieve, even if they didn’t quite get there. You can appreciate the effort put in from the actors, who can sometimes charm their way out of a particularly terrible movie. You can justify the existence of something so foul because you end up enjoying the ludicrous display of terrible being presented to you on the big screen. There are, however, those occasional movies that are so awful they cannot be mitigated and your sense of stink cannot be appeased. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Tom Cruise in “The Mummy.”
This movie is bad. The kind of bad that shocks. So awful in its construction that it’s a wonder just how something this foul made it through the layers of checks and balances usually applied to a franchise launching a $100,000,000-plus production. The stench coming off of prints of this movie are far worse than the 5,000-year-old rotting flesh of its title character. This is worse than hot garbage. This is an infinite tire fire where the burning vulcanized rubber is topped with adult diapers from a rest home located next to a discount-Indian buffet. The kind of odor that audiences can not only smell, but taste.
I could probably spend a handful of columns plowing through the giant pile of feces that is “The Mummy,” like Laura Dern digging into a pile of Triceratops dung in “Jurassic Park.” Thankfully, I won’t. Let’s start with the most gaping flaw: the casting. “The Mummy” is the perfect film for Tom Cruise … if this movie had been made in 1988. I love Tom Cruise, but he’s fast becoming patently unbelievable in roles requiring him to play anything other than a middle-aged man. In “The Mummy” he plays Nick, a long-distance reconnaissance team leader for the American military. When he’s not tracking the enemy, he’s looking for rare antiquities to steal and sell for profit.
While hanging out in northern Iraq he falls face first into a giant tomb that houses the body of a cursed Egyptian queen, which he idiotically frees. Once he falls into the gaze of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) he is cursed as she decides the aging Mr. Cruise is going to be the mortal vessel for the ancient God of Death. The rest of the film has Ahmanet chasing down Nick in a case of supernatural stalking that lands in jolly old England. Nick soon discovers he has stumbled into a battle between good and evil that involves a secret society, a twisted doctor (Russell Crowe) and an ancient dagger needed to complete the ritual. Did I mention the girl that Nick falls in love with after eight minutes and that his best friend dies and comes back as a ghost? It didn’t matter in the movie, so why bother mentioning it in the review?
This was the first film I can remember in a long time where I cringed a lot. I felt bad for Tom Cruise. It was like watching the late, great Roger Moore in his final performance as James Bond in “A View to a Kill,” where he hits on girls 30 years his younger. It’s like watching your charming middle-aged uncle trying to be hip while hanging out with college kids. Cruise seems so out of place in this movie. This is a role that should have gone to any solid male actor in his 20s or 30s. There’s never a scene where I’m not slightly weirded out by Cruise hanging out with a friend, a love interest, and a villain that are all decades younger.
The movie looks abysmal. I can’t remember a film with less fetching visuals. It has the polish and production value of a Lifetime movie. The writing is so simplistic it feels like a story scripted so third graders can follow along. There’s not a single scare in the entire film. And to top it all off, it’s completely bereft of likable characters. Even Cruise’s trademark charisma is useless, invalidated by being far too old for this role.
I never go into a movie hoping for it to be bad. Eviscerating a creative work is never the goal of a critic. But I left the theater in a baffled state and was eager to get in front of a keyboard to share my disdain for this absolute waste of time. This is the first movie I’ve seen in 2017 that really deserves derision. Hurling trash at “The Mummy” feels fair since it felt like the filmmakers were chucking piles hot garbage at me for two hours.