One of the barometers for any Tom Cruise movie is whether the 54-year-old star sprints at any point; the more he runs, the movie usually has a chance.
Tom Cruise runs plenty in “The Mummy” but no amount of sprinting can avoid the problems this movie inflicts on itself or eager viewers. No, not even a beach volleyball scene can save this steaming pile of hot summer garbage that is set up for sequels but so bad it’s easily conceivable execs will scrap it.
Indeed, the best news about “The Mummy,” which opens this week, is that Cruise revealed on an Australian morning news show that “Top Gun 2” is in the works for next year.
The new movie is not quite a re-boot of the Brendan Fraser 1999 vehicle that was an ode to Indiana Jones, but it’s close. The Cruise Mummy is a lavish production complete with expensive 3-D effects that are entertaining but lost in an uneven script that needed a director to stop and ask everyone, “OK — exactly what in the hell are we doing here?”
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It includes vestiges of the undead from “The Walking Dead,” bugs from “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, rats from “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade,” a plane flight straight out of “The Dark Knight Rises,” and then Russell Crowe turns out to be one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s most famous characters.
It’s all a weak and misguided attempt to start a film franchise for a studio in search of the next winner.
This version of The Mummy is set in present day and, like the original, is centered around an evil female mummy from ancient Egypt. She is discovered by a Cruise, who is a military man in Iraq looking for treasure to turn into cash.
Don’t worry too much about the plot; the writers didn’t. The movie meanders like the Thames. But unlike England’s famous river, the variations in “The Mummy” have no real point.
They had something with a part of the plot centered around the Crusaders buried beneath London, but failed to take advantage of that concept. Instead, this is mostly a plate of ancient cursed Egyptian cliches buttressed by CGI.
Nonetheless, Cruise comes across an archeologist, who happens to be attractive blonde from England, Anabelle Wallis. Together they are an enlisted by Crowe’s version of Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde, who is now a well-to-do scientist living in jolly ol’ England and fights monsters and demons with unlimited funds and resources.
Turns out Cruise is cursed by the evil female Mummy he unleashed, the movie is a two-hour fight to save himself, mankind, and to return the mummy to a strip mall ... or something.
The scene on the plane is fun, the effects are slick, but the characters are hallow and the suspense nil.
Crowe phoned this one in for the check, and the movie wastes Wallis and Cruise, who remains a convincing physical actor.
By the end, the film sets up for “The Mummy 2” but one is more than enough.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof