Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is very good at committing himself. To solid movies, to dangerous stunt work and lots of intense running, but most importantly, to entertaining us the best he possibly can. I usually try to separate the art from the artist (since I still enjoy the films of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, like the horrible person I am), but after watching Alex Gibney's documentary, "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," it's hard for me to really support Cruise anymore.
As much as I love the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, his sci-fi flicks and "Magnolia," I'll be the first to admit Cruise uses his physical prowess and charm to cover the fact that he has a very limited range—but one that he's very good inside. Because of that limited range, he's very choosy about the kinds of movies he's in and has a very solid record with his quality control. He also chooses interesting and sometimes groundbreaking filmmakers with whom to work, such as Stanley Kubrick, P.T. Anderson, Michael Mann, Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Cameron Crowe and Oliver Stone.
So what the hell went wrong with "The Mummy?" A big part of the problem is director Alex Kurtzman, primarily a writer of Hollywood blockbusters, including the "Transformers" and "Star Trek" franchises. His direction is so unassured and nervous that it feels like he second-guessed every choice in the film. It's a half-adventure and half-comedy, but the script is so half-assed that the entire film feels tonally schizophrenic.
"The Mummy" seems more like an adaption of the "Uncharted" video game series than anything else. Cruise is playing Nick, a soldier of fortune who accidentally discovers the hidden tomb/prison of the cursed Princess Ahmanet. Nick is a womanizing jerk who will basically do whatever it takes to find some treasure. It's way outside of Cruise's comfort zone as a character, so he feels more like a collection of tics from some of his older performances than a fully lived-in person.
All of this has a larger endgame, allowing Universal to build on something they're calling the "Dark Universe," a shared series of movies (thanks, Marvel!) bringing together all of the studio's classic monsters into one easy-to-market franchise. Over the next few years Universal is releasing reboots of the "Bride of Frankenstein," "Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Wolf Man," "Invisible Man," "Dracula" and several others. Russell Crowe's character of Henry Jekyll is shoehorned into "The Mummy" to be a bit of connectivity to the upcoming movies.
Really, the only reason Tom Cruise should have even done this movie is because he wants his own "Indiana Jones-esque" franchise he can keep banking on for another decade without having to kill himself doing crazy stunts.
"The Mummy" falls apart under the weight of its own expectations and dies as it lived, as a shambling zombie, stumbling through the multiplex, hungry for brains.
Dir. Alex Kurtzman
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema