It’s odd that a star like Tom Cruise should attach himself to a jazzed up B film, rebooting the old horror-action franchise The Mummy. Perhaps he just liked the idea of starting a new series and being a rough-and-tumble Indiana Jones kind of hero, with a touch of grey. He plays Nick Morton, an Army sergeant who loots antique treasures from Middle Eastern war zones, along with partner in crime Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). Nick steaks a map from archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) that leads to an ancient burial site. She is not too happy with his sneakiness but wants in on the ensuing adventure. The two find a sarcophagus buried in a giant pool of mercury — an Egyptian coffin that contains the remains of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella).
The angry princess deprived of the throne went on the rampage in her kingdom and was finally caught and ‘mummified’ alive. Her ceremonial dagger which she intended to use for human sacrifice, is broken into two and only Ahmanet can rework its magic powers when the two pieces are connected. One piece of the dagger is in England, taken by Dr Henry Jekyll (seriously) played by Russell Crowe, who seems to enjoy every bit of his part. Of course, when Ahmanet’s tomb is disturbed, she gets out to cause all manner of havoc. Worse (and amusingly so) the tattooed ‘Mummy’ with two irises, takes a fancy to Nick calling him her “chosen.”
The film has more in common with the Mummy films starring Brendan Fraser, rather than the bandage-unravelling horror of the old black and white films (with actors like Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Christopher Lee) that worked without today’s sophisticated computer technology. So it’s easier to do splashy action scenes, crash planes and buildings and unleash an army of zombies.
It’s entertaining if expectations are kept low; what is a little worrisome is the promise (or threat) of more such ‘Dark Universe’ films, which will keep Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe busier than ever for a few years.