Tom Cruise has finally come up against someone older than himself who is faster, stronger and uses a better anti-ageing serum. Shockingly, she's a woman. Well, maybe in a past life. Now she's a monster, a deranged thing, tattooed Kwaiden-style and dug up from the grave. The sort of evil death-kissing temptress Cruise will surely have to vanquish to save his masculinity. The near-constant flashbacks reveal was she was quite attractive in her day, that is, when she wasn't wielding a knife to slaughter her father and an innocent baby. There is another woman alongside Cruise in Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) a pretty and intelligent archaeologist, secretly smitten by the roguish charms of Cruise, of course, spending the entire film channelling Penelope Pitstop (one for the kids there).
Welcome to the start of Universal's 'Dark Universe' dragging us back thirty years to a time of simple and lazy filmmaking. If The Mummy shows signs of decay in the early stages of its box office life, there is every chance the next film in the DU - currently scheduled for 2019 - may be left to rest in its crypt. The growing signs of franchise fatigue continue to spread and the studios have got their fingers at the ready to point firmly in the critics’ direction. Thankfully, that won't be the case this time because The Mummy has got a healthy score of...what's that you say? Oh, right.
Understandably, in the lead up to the release of this film there have been a lot of references to Brendan Fraser (which let's face it, is never a bad thing). But it is worth remembering that too was a reincarnation of the Boris Karloff original, which in turn was resurrected by Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing for the Hammer studio. Director Alex Kurtzman's modern take only offers a slight variance on the story, although calling it a story is quite a generous turn of phrase. Lack of story is not always a bad thing, providing there is enough other 'stuff' going on to compensate. And while there is plenty of 'stuff' happening in The Mummy, far too much is mundane and forgettable.
A shaky connection to the war in Iraq introduces two soldiers: the conniving Nick Morton (Cruise) and his cheeky chappy sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson - who continues to morph into Oscar Isaac). Almost killed by insurgents while hunting for a hidden treasure, their army buddies fly in to save their hides. Once the dust has settled, the secret tomb of Princess Ahmanet, aka the Mummy (Sofia Boutella), reveals itself. Meanwhile, back in London, Russell Crowe's Dr Jekyll (you know where that is going) appears to be up to no good, eventually bringing together the Mummy, Nick, Jenny and a special dagger that holds the key to slaying the evil Egyptian princess.
The ever reliable Cruise magic is nowhere to be seen, barely given a moment to catch his breath before being launched into yet another CGI set-piece. Crowe continues to slump from one self-parody to the next, this time hamming up the two sides of Dr Jekyll, turning Mr Hyde into a bit of a wide-boy geezer. The exotic looks of Boutella appear to be the Mummy's only recognisable character trait outside of a worrying obsession with Nick, making her more annoying than terrifying. Awful dialogue and stiff performances leave this soulless $125m B-movie at the mercy of its titular monster. Which is a problem, because at their heart, the best monster movies are never really about the monster at all.