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‘The Mummy’ Makes Cruise’s Couch Jump Look Sane

What do Laurence Olivier, Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep all have in common?

All three legendary stars have at least one stinker on their resume.

  • Olivier? — “The Jazz Singer”
  • Hoffman? — “Sphere”
  • Streep? — “She Devil”

Tom Cruise has never made a bad movie. “Losin’ It” is far from good, but as a hokey teen comedy its ambitions weren’t sky high. “Lions for Lambs” comes close. It still feels more like an ensemble dud dragged down by Robert Redford’s liberalism.

Cruise’s “The Mummy?” It’s rotten to the core. End of story.

Cruise’s first scene in the film might have made a great parody of his on-screen persona. He’s playing Nick Morton, an Army sergeant with a knack for knicking antiquities. Nick plays by his own rules and never lets gunfire get in the way of a quip.

He cracks wise with Jake Johnson’s sidekick character, and the alleged humor never comes close to making us grin. Johnson could role out of bed and play this kind of role. It’s his Gilligan, his Greg Brady.

Here? Nuthin’.

That’s how bad the screenplay, credited to six! writers, is. The script mutes both Johnson’s charm and Cruise’s megawatt smile. Look, Ma … no CGI!

RELATED: Veterans Salute Cruise’s ‘Top Gun’ 30 Years Later

Morton and Generic Sidekick run into archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), a beauty investigating a newly discovered mummy tomb.

Turns out this mummy nurses a centuries’ old grudge. How do we know? The numbing prologue tells us. And so does the script. If expository dialog satiates you, better watch “The Mummy” with a fork, spoon and bib.

Don’t forget the Tums.

The title character is brought to life by CGI gurus and Sofia Boutella. The beguiling actress gave the mediocre “Star Trek Beyond” some snap. Here, she’s buried by blockbuster bloat and some unfortunate tattoos.

russell crowe as dr jekyll in The Mummy
Russell Crowe teases a possible spinoff feature playing Dr. Henry Jekyll in ‘The Mummy.’

We haven’t even mentioned Russell Crowe’s turn as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yes, that Dr. Jekyll. He’s tracking some evil creatures as part of a grand scheme to, well, it’s not crystal clear.

Very little is here, except that his Mr. Hyde persona is as scary as Fred Rogers sporting a clean red sweater.

“The Mummy” rolled off the assembly line for one reason: to establish the new “Dark Universe” of Universal monsters. It’s a marketing construct first, second and fifteenth. A summer roller coast ride? Dead last.

'The Mummy' is the kind of film an actor tackles if facing enormous debt or the need to chase a scandal off the Drudge Report.Click To Tweet

If you leave the theater eager to see how Universal resurrects The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster your love for classic monsters is unbreakable. The film’s studio is banking on that affection.

It all begs the biggest question of the summer movie season to date. How did Cruise end up here?

His resume reflects his painstaking quest for perfection. He takes a producer’s credit on most of his big projects and lines up smart collaborators to make them sparkle. That’s how you stay atop the A-list into your 50s.

Yet “The Mummy” is the kind of film an actor tackles if facing enormous debt or the need to chase a scandal off the Drudge Report.

A few “Mummy” sequences offer some popcorn-munching fun. The airplane crash teased in the trailer will leave you breathless. And Cruise gives it 120 percent in every scene.

He has no other mode.

That same, go for broke spirit that makes the “Mission: Impossible” franchise a hoot only makes matters worse here. Even Cruise can tell he’s wallowing in his worst film to date.

We haven’t even mentioned the tonal shifts infesting the narrative. Director Alex Kurtzman gives no attention to a consistent atmosphere. At times “The Mummy” establishes a dollop of tension in the grand horror movie tradition. Soon, a clumsy romantic subplot interrupts the mood. Seconds later, we’re back into Cruise action mode.

Anything is better than seeing Nick and Jenny flirt.

It all makes the notion of a new shared universe something to genuinely fear.

HiT or Miss: The only thing scary about “The Mummy” is that Universal thought it was the best way to kick off a classic monster universe.

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6 Comments

  1. Wow! If you think Sphere is a stinker and Star Trek Beyond is mediocre, the Mummy should be awesome! You’ve convinced me to go see it. If someone with your taste hates it, it must be great!

    1. I haven’t seen Sphere, but Star Trek Beyond was completely mediocre. It was a disjointed, nonsensical mess of a movie.

  2. Six writers? Ugh.
    Thanks for taking one for the team. I’ll go see WW or GOTG2 again instead.

    Why did they take their inspiration from the Brendan Fraser Mummy? Why not work on the horror of a walking corpse that murders people in the night?

    1. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a brilliant horror story on that theme, about a wealthy college student who Summons Undead in his dorm room to wreak havoc on the classmates and teachers he didn’t get on with.

      1. Later made into a segment of Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, starring Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater and in her motion picture debut, Julianne Moore

  3. Cocktail was a very bad movie, and Cruise gave his worst performance in it, which consisted of little more than tossing glasses in the air and showing off his new dental work. Olivier unfortunately went through the sort of career plummet in his twilight years that Robert DeNiro has gone through for the past fifteen years, appearing in drek far below him such as Inchon and The Betsy. And Hoffman also has Hook and Ishtar on his resume, but his worst movies are Alfredo Alfredo and Madigan’s Millions, crappy Euro-comedies he made between The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy that weren’t even released in North America until he had achieved superstardom.

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