Back from Dead

'The Mummy,' another franchise that won't die

The Mummy is a title to reckon with, and this re-re-remake isn’t committed enough to be really bad. Under Alex Kurtzman’s flavorless direction, almost every character is a pain—even the ornery good girl (Annabelle Wallace) seems to have fading hopes of her own importance to the plot.

The sacred ancient text The Mummy is based on is Tom Cruise Script A1, “The Menschification of Tom Cruise,” in which our boy-man must learn to be nice to other people instead of just standing around grinning, amazed at his own naughty mischief.

Nick Morton (Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are U.S. soldiers in Iraq doing a little archaeological looting. After being shot at by some insurgents, Morton and Vail request an air strike, and the drone’s bomb crater reveals a tomb. Inside is Middle-Kingdom Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), wrapped alive, tossed into a sarcophagus far from home in Mesopotamia.

The military hauls the cursed mummy to a museum in London. There, Ahmanet gets out and goes on the town, sucking all the life out of passersby. Trailing her is Dr. Henry Jekyll (a not-bad Russell Crowe), as bearded, baleful and tweedy as Professor Quatermass. The doctor, and his companion Hyde (yes, that Jekyll and Hyde)—copper-green of face, shiny like a fly’s abdomen—are heads of a secret organization that studies and captures monsters.

The 1990s Brendan Fraser movies are now the official Mummy flicks of so many childhoods. Thus it’s probably a doomed effort to recall the 1932 Boris Karloff version, and far less to recall the 1960s Hammer remakes starring His Magnificence, Christopher Lee. There’s nothing Zeitgeisty in this version, despite the Iranian prologue. True, the dead princess is alluring in her diaphanous linens, seen in desert-sunset-lit flashbacks, but Boutella, never stays lovely enough to kindle any love and Cruise doesn’t take the bait. Kurtzman, apparently, prefers the kid fodder of zombies—rot instead of romance.

‘The Mummy’ is playing in wide release in the North Bay.