So: it wasn’t really my choice to go and see this movie – especially with cinema prices being what they are these days – but when you receive a text from your mate that says “Do you fancy going to the cinema to watch a shit film?”, and you write for a site called Rubbishfilms.com, it’s a call to arms that one can’t really ignore.
Now, although I’m not keen on over-exposition of the plot in movies, I appreciate that it’s necessary to let the viewer know what’s going on, especially if they’re the sort of person that likes going to see Tom Cruise action movies. So, from the off, we get a brooding (is there any other variant these days?) Russell Crowe doing his best English accent (a region I’m not familiar with) relating the story of how the central creature (a slinky turn by Sofia Boutella) ended up, buried alive, deep underground and swathed in regulation NHS dressing. But, you know – just so the point is hammered firmly home – it’s delivered in a proper Jackanory-style, with some helpful flashbacks to help you join those gigantic, clearly-numbered dots. At least Rik Mayall had the decency to shout and wave his arms around a bit.
So we’ve handily had the premise rammed firmly down our throats, now let’s meet the action hero: Nick Morton, a kind-of Peter Pan Tomb Raider with a penis, played by a 54 – yes that’s 54-year-old – Tom Cruise. Nick is a raffish liberator of ancient artefacts, and my God, isn’t he a handful, as he and his wise-cracking sidekick (Jake Johnson, AKA the bloke who had all the best lines in New Girl ) find themselves in hot water AGAIN, marauding through Iraq and improbably escaping death by some completely unidentified connection with the US Army. With the assistance of Annabelle Wallis’ dead-eyed performance as Egyptology expert Jenny Halsey, Nick and wise-cracking matey boy somehow uncover our Mummy’s tomb, and for reasons far too tedious to mention here, resurrect her whilst clumsily managing to line Nick up as the next Egyptian God of Death through some kind of curse. Which is nice.
The problem with this movie is that it lacks any basic coherency; it really has no idea what it wants to be. It would seem that the director has pulled a back-to-back monster movies all-nighter and lifted the bits he liked the most, without any consideration about how they will all fit together. It’s quite literally all over the place. The heavy plot exposition leaves little time for actual storytelling, and the clumsy attempts to establish the “Dark Universe” characters within the plot is badly botched, leaving little time for you to make any connection with the characters, the dialogue or the plot.
The movie strikes a very passable visual chord, and at times looks good – think Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones’ best subterranean bits, with some half-decent action sequences that are unfortunately poorly punctuated by an overuse of Cruise’s reaction shots – but can never make it past the jittery insistence that we need to be aware of what’s happening AT ALL TIMES. Add to this a corny, laughable script, containing some corkers such as “Remember Nick- inside you, there is a good man.” “Oh no, we’re gonna die!”, and you’ll wish that this stinking, rotten cadaver of a movie was best left to decompose deep, deep underground. In Iraq. Or England. Or somewhere. I’m still not sure exactly where.