On one hand this is another reboot of The Mummy which started in the 1930’s. On the other hand it is the start of Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe. A franchise of interlinked monster characters that Universal has the rights to. It was originally supposed to start with 2014’s Dracula Untold but that movie was dead on arrival. So how does this start of a new franchise hold up? You have Tom Cruise who really doesn’t do franchises unless he has a substantial amount of control over. You have Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll. You have the titular mummy who this time is a woman.
Well the movie is okay. It suffers from the fact that it has many masters to serve and thus you never really get a complete film. It’s like if they started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man 2. The movie follows Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) who is some sort of mercenary. He and a team of other military personnel unearth the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who was entombed because of her ambition for power led her down a path of evil. After an accident leads Nick crossing path with Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), who is the head of a secret organization who is dedicated to stopping monsters in the world. it is up to Nick and others to stop Ahmanet from beginning another reign of destruction.
As stated earlier, the biggest conflict comes with the movie having to serve too many masters. As a Mummy movie, the film works for me. I like Ahmanet and her power set which helps differentiate her from the versions of Imhotep from previous Mummy movies. If the film had stuck to just that, it would have worked. The problem is when they are trying to really hammer home the shared universe thing. The film comes to something a halt whenever Dr. Jekyll appears and especially when Mr. Hyde finally makes his appearance. The whole product does not gel together to make a complete picture.
Tom Cruise is serviceable in the role but the role is thin. The best thing about it is that his character is a complete jerk. There is something refreshing about seeing a movie where the main character is actually scared of the danger around them. Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll is pretty much doing his Jor-El thing. Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet is the standout as the physicality and presence that she carries is great and you never doubt her threat. The other characters played by Jake Johnson and Annabelle Wallis are okay. Wallis is probably the worst though as her character is just the designated love interest but the only problem is that she and Cruise have no chemistry.
The action and special effects are top notch. The destruction of London while being something of a repeat of the 1999 Mummy is still a sight to behold. The fight scene between Nick and Mr. Hyde is also interesting even if it takes away from the actual Mummy. The airplane crash scene that is featured in the trailer is quick but still stressful. Don’t see this film in 3D though as even though I saw it in 2D, it was still very dark. Couldn’t imagine seeing two particular set pieces with a dark lens over my eyes.
The Mummy isn’t a bad thing. It just crumbles under its own ambitions. The rush to create a franchise ultimately hurt the main starting film. The potential is there and if they had simply taken a few steps back and focus more on The Mummy herself and the plot, it would have been a much better film. It is still enjoyable and it is a movie that you can go into and watch. You probably won’t love the film but there are worse ways to spend your money. Plus the film is only a little over an hour and a half long. It’s an easy watch.
Unfortunately I did not see The Nice Guys in theaters. It came out during a crowded summer and for such a smaller film, it really worked against it. Now that the movie has been released on home video, I am saddened that I missed it while it was in theaters. In a summer full of disappointments, this movie certainly would have shined. Not to say that it was a perfect film because it isn’t. But it’s probably my favorite Shane Black directed film.
Set in 1977 Los Angeles, down on his luck private investigator Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) team up to find out about missing girl, Amelia Kutner. Holland is a widower and alcoholic raising his one teenage daughter, Holly. Jackson is more of a schlub than anything else. They only encounter one another because Amelia is a person of interest to a case Holland is working and Amelia hires Jackson to intimidate Holland. Needless to say, the two do not start off on the best foot. But after Amelia goes missing and Jackson himself is threatened by hired thugs, he knows he needs Holland’s help.
The movie would not work without the chemistry between the two leads. Russell Crowe is one of the best working actors today and he is mainly known for his tough guy roles. Here he still gets to play the tough guy but one with more flaws than anything. Healy is overweight and living above a comedy club with only his fish as companions. When Holly offers to pay Healy to beat up her girl friend, Healy entertains the idea. It certainly is played for laughs but one gets the feeling that he would do it, if payed the right amount. Gosling plays more the comedic element to Crowe’s straight man. March is constantly drunk throughout the film. It would be hard to sympathize with him considering he has his 13 year old daughter drive him around because he’s too drunk to drive. But we learn more about March as the film goes on and needless to say he has had a rough few years. It helps that while he may be a drunk, he never neglects or abuses his daughter. Gosling has always been an actor who dabbles in both comedic and dramatic but here he is more comedic than ever. The chemistry between the two is great.
The plot is typical noir. There is a missing woman and the protagonists have to investigate the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles to find her. Since then is a Shane Black film, there is a much more zany element to the film noir. Almost all of the characters have a goofy charm to them and even in more serious elements, the comedy never lets up. But it never gets too comedic where you lose track of the stakes as there is murder left and right. There is a particular moment where a dead body is found where you get a grasp of how serious things are but it is still hilarious especially Russell Crowe’s more subdued reaction to the situation at hand.
The supporting cast helps flesh out the world. Kim Bassinger has an extended cameo as the mother of Amelia. She plays the role of the grieving mother well. Keith David and Beau Knapp as two recurring thugs make the most of their limited screen time. Matt Bomer appears as an assassin only known as “John Boy” due to his resemblance to the character from The Waltons. Bomer shows up pretty late in the film but does make an impression as the somewhat charming but nonetheless efficient killer. The real standout is Angourie Rice as Holland March’s daughter, Holly March. It is obvious that she has had to grow up faster than expected with her mother dying and her father becoming a drunk. She knows that her father is a good man but has some issues and is not afraid to cut him down when he needs to be. This eventually extends to Healy who becomes something of a cool uncle to the young girl.
I am not the biggest fan of Shane Black films. I guess I should clarify that I mean his films that he has written and directed. I think Iron Man 3 is an okay movie. One that quickly undercuts what it set up in the beginning. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which is considered the comeback of Robert Downey Jr. is a really good movie but one that I did not connect to like everyone else. This film was something I could get on board with more. It might have something to do with the leads who I was already a big fan of before this movie. But I found myself enjoying the movie from beginning to end. It is well crafted and tight from beginning to end. I could not see any leaps in logic that usually accompany a mystery. If you have not seen this film, it is now available on most platforms to rent or buy.