Gods were an important instrument to the unification of ancient Egypt. The deities were all closely connected with the Pharaoh, who was, in popular belief and political power, the supreme God. So, in this latest edition concerning the mummification tradition of that great civilization, the God ‘Set’ – Lord of the desert, of storms, violence, chaos and foreigners – reigns supreme. ‘Set’ is most particularly the God of foreigners in this movie; Americans like the Tom Cruise character who bring chaos to the Middle East and unleash the hidden prophecy that has kept this part of the world under control, at least till the disastrous invasion of Iraq.
Interestingly, the movie begins when Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a hunter of archeological treasure in Mesopotamia, now posing as an American soldier in post invasion Iraq, orders an air strike. The bombing in the desert uncovers an ancient Egyptian tomb. He is not an Egyptologist, but Morton recognizes this as a stupendous archeological discovery. How did a sarcophagus from a family of great Pharaohs come to be buried so far from home? Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), a British archeologist, arrives to explain that this is the tomb of Princess Ahmanet, whose name was erased from Egyptian history for the crimes of patricide and fratricide. She was mummified alive for her sins and buried as far away as possible, so that the curse of the God Set did not visit the Kingdom any more.
The finest scenes in ‘The Mummy’ involve the extrication of the coffin from the bombed out site in Iraq, whilst it is surrounded by ravens (the harbingers of death), the transportation of it by helicopter to an airfield, and the subsequent transfer to a heavy transport American warplane bound for England. En route, the ravens then arrive in flocks to attack the aircraft, causing it to crash.
Miraculously, Nick Morton is found unharmed at the crash site, without even a scratch on him. There is a shot of Tom Cruise, buck naked, to prove this, just in case you were doubting it. As with his fans, the Princess Ahmanet has apparently developed a crush on him and sees the Tom Cruise character as the chosen one who has released her from eternal mummification.
Till this point in the narrative, ’The Mummy’ is entertaining and watchable. Cruise plays the ‘cool as a cucumber’ action hero of the ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Jack Reacher’ series, and also of ‘Knight and Day’. But once he becomes ‘the chosen one’, the carrier of ’the curse of the Mummy’, and the rest of the mumbo jumbo this film starts to include, he turns into a cartoon figure who is now a parody of the self deprecating hero and/or anti-hero of his previously carefully chosen roles. Humor deserts his character and the movie goes from the examination of the supernatural in Egyptology to an old fashioned horror film of near ‘B’ grade quality.
Sad to say, the Russell Crowe character, introduced in the second half, is largely responsible for this soul destroying about turn in the film. Crowe plays a stereotyped mad scientist with the disastrously hackneyed name of Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde, who has been setting up a museum of monsters. The now awakened Princess Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella) is the latest addition to his chamber of horrors.
From here on, ’The Mummy’ is a zombie movie and could well be titled ‘The Living Dead: Tom Cruise and his battle with the Zombies’. It almost seems that the director was handed two different scripts, one on the mummies of Egypt and the other on zombies, and decided to combine them into a single entity.