The Mummy is not an amazing movie, nor does it try to do anything all that unique. However, for some crazy reason, it’s still one of my favorite adventure flicks of all time. It’s a good, old-fashioned pulp action thrill ride that I’ve seen countless times and yet still manage to find something new to enjoy. Let me try and tell you why.
This movie follows American adventure Rick O’Connell as he is recruited by Evelyn and Jonathon Carnahan, two hopeful Egyptologists’ with grand ambitions, to escort them to the fabled, cursed city of Hamunaptra. And, as you can guess, when there’s a cursed city involved it doens’t take long for things to go horribly, horribly wrong.
The plot is simple and straightforward, and is neither self-indulgent nor overly serious. The story is compelling enough to catch your interest, and does a spectacular job of ushering you from point-to-point without overstaying its welcome. It’s a classic adventure through and through, and it never tries to be anything else, which I think is why it’s just so dang fun to watch.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and manages to find that perfect balance between intense setpieces and tongue-in-cheek humor. The characters are almost self-aware, and their constant string of banter and one-liners gives the story an uproariously fun tone that is both natural and exciting.
However, it’s the cast that make The Mummy the joyride that it is, as each actor gives it their all and manage to have fun doing it. I’ve never been a big fan of Brendan Fraser, but his performance as the wise-cracking Rick O’Connell is absolutely infectious. He delivers every line with the perfect amount of bravado and sarcasm, and he eats up every scene he’s given.
Rachel Weisz and John Hannah are delightful as Evelyn and Jonathon Caranhan respectively, and while Evelyn may not be the most developed female character out there, Weisz plays her part surprisingly well and she not only looks like she’s having fun, but convinces the audience to have fun along with her. And, of course, it doens’t hurt that she has some great chemistry with her co-stars.
Ever her bumbling brother Jonathon, who, along with Kevin J. O’Connor’s Beni, fares surprisingly well as one of the primary sources of humor for the film. He’s clever and witty, and his self-aware sense of humor never fails to make me laugh like a fool, especially when he’s interacting with the rest of the cast.
The Mummy also comes packed with a villain that is just as unique and exciting as the protagonists’ themselves. Arnold Vosloo delivers a memorable performance as the reincarnated Imhotep, and he plays the character surprisingly straight, and not only manages to give our heroes a suitably nasty opponent, but also succeeds in having a great time doing it.
For an action-packed film such as this, there’s a surprising amount of humor involved, some of it even bordering on slapstick, but it actually benefits the movie instead of hurting it. While there are some particularly tense action setpieces spread throughout the film’s running time, they’re all imbued with that perfect edge of self-aware wit that keeps them original and refreshing.
Speaking of action scenes, there’s a lot of them, and they get more exciting and ambitious as the film moves on. While some fare better than others, the plot moves at such a breakneck pace that you’re never given enough time to really pick it apart. Which is a good thing, because The Mummy delivers some especially tense, suspenseful moments that will leave you on the edge of your seat if you’ll let them.
However, some of the special effects look dated today, and while it doens’t detract from the quality of the film too much, it definitely gets a little distracting. Thankfully, however, director Stephen Sommers knows exactly what he’s doing, and he carries you from scene-to-scene like a pro and delivers some truly exhilarating moments along the way.
The Mummy is far from a perfect movie, but I really can’t find any major flaws with it. Sure, the special effects are old and dated, the action is exuberant and hilariously over-the-top, and the dialogue is, in my opinion, wonderfully campy, but who cares? It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and its only purpose is to give its audience a good time. And it does that better than a good percentage of modern day action flicks do.
I don’t expect everyone to enjoy it the way I do, and I totally understand why it isn’t for everyone, but The Mummy has been one of my favorite adventure flicks for years, and I get just as much out of it from my twelfth viewing as I did from my first. So strap yourself in, turn off your brain, and just enjoy the ride.