Few redeeming features in 'Mummy' reboot

(ABC News photo)

Any sense of remarkable for the Tom Cruise starring iteration of "The Mummy" comes from how bad the movie is. Although it isn't quite interesting enough to qualify as a train wreck, it is a great example of how bad the screenwriting by committee method can get. There are six people who have their names attached to this thing, and it's difficult to find areas where more than two of them agreed on a plot point or piece of dialog. The lack of cohesion is stunning and somewhat impressive in how it results in an otherwise unimpressive movie.

The messiness "The Mummy" exhibits starts with a random text opening quote followed by uninspired voiceover courtesy of a bored Russell Crowe. Then the movie starts in England circa 1127 A.D., then bounces back to present day England, then flashes back yet again to ancient Egypt before stopping for a while in the Middle East in modern times again. The writers in effect created four separate openings to this film, three of would be OK on their own but none of which work in unison with the others. What remains is a good indicator the movie lacks a single direction, a tone it wants to follow and an identity worthy of its predecessors.

What, then, is "The Mummy" supposed to be? Previous adaptations have worked as a horror film, using the supernatural aspects of the ancient evil to invoke terror. But no one involved in this version seems interested in having this movie be truly scary, and the trace elements of horror that sneak into this movie are subpar. "The Mummy" character has background comedies tracing back to the days of Abbott and Costello, and this movie does work best using the comedic elements. The writers mine solid material from the moderate silliness of the monster, with one scene involving Cruise, the monster (Sofia Boutella), a few henchman and an awkward entrance by Cruise's love interest (Annabelle Wallis) working as an entertaining example of awkward comedy. Appropriately enough the filmmakers abandons the intentional humor in the middle of the second act, leaving the one enjoyable part of this movie behind.

So what's left is an action-adventure movie, not too far off from the 1999 version, albeit with a slightly darker tone. Except the 2017 "Mummy" isn't particularly good as an action-adventure flick. The surprisingly sparse action sequences have little vigor and excitement to keep the viewer interested in the fates of Cruise and the far too young for him love interest Wallis. The adventure is limited to England and the early sojourn to the Middle East, making it a less than enthralling globe trotting journey. It's difficult to spend more than $125 million on a movie and come out with something this blase.

"The Mummy" becomes remarkably stupid toward the end of the second act with the proper introduction of Crowe's character, the mysterious leader of a secret organization, Dr. Henry Jekyll. That's Henry Jekyll of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fame. The reveal is as dumb as it sounds, and the scenario only gets worse when Crowe hams it up when he inevitably transforms into Mr. Hyde. It feels like one of the writers or a few people from Universal decided threw that in there to kick off the Universal monster movie universe, and it comes across as awkwardly as it sounds. It also makes little sense to have a man as volatile as Henry Jekyll be in charge of any secret organization, but that's one of the lesser problems this movie faces.

If there's any single potentially interesting aspect to "The Mummy," it's an ending that isn't as saccharine and easy as it could've been. A real sense of tragedy sneaks in for the final few moments that makes sense despite all of the messiness beforehand. But, again, this movie is dumb. It's not smart enough to end at the right time, favoring an ending with even more asinine voiceover and a similarly useless closing scene with Cruise and resurrected co-star Jake Johnson. "The Mummy" is the type of movie that not only isn't able to do anything right, but doubles down on doing the exact wrong thing. Rating: One and a half out of Five Stars Ask Away Target audience: Tom Cruise followers and viewers who want to see the start of a monster universe. Take the whole family?: This'll probably be a little intimidating for kids younger than 8. Theater or Netflix?: Once again, stay at home and let it come to you. Is the film sexist?: It is with its treatment of Sofia Boutella's character. Having the monster as a woman is fine and kind of cool, but the filmmakers portray her as a Jezebel creating mayhem for the men around her. That the filmmakers literally bind her at one point is troublesome for a whole host of reasons as well. Watch this instead?: The 1999 "Mummy" with Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz isn't great, but the action is solid and the characters are fun enough. It also has one of the cooler haboobs ever depicted in a movie. Rating: PG-13 Run time: 110 minutes Genre: Action

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