Used to Love Him
by ETHAN PETERSON
dir. Alex Kurtzman
Jennifer (Annabelle Wallis) meets Nick (Tom Cruise) in Baghdad. Although he is twenty-two years her senior, there is a serious paucity of English-speaking men in this city. She therefore invites him back to her hotel room, where he pleasures her as many times as his advanced age is able to accommodate. In her quiet moments, Jennifer hunkers down in front of her laptop, puts on a pair of optional eyeglasses – at no other time in The Mummy does she ever wear them – and checks in with her supervisor Henry (Russell Crowe).
These are the two men in her life. She might have chosen better if she had left Cambridge and took the job offer from an American company; instead she wanted to make her home in London, and work for an organization called Prodigium, which dedicates itself to the elimination of evil. It is subtly suggested in The Mummy that Jennifer is hoping to turn the focus of her company from the commercial exploitation of historic sites to a more active role in political affairs, e.g. Brexit and the like.
She is pretty lukewarm on Nick after the sex. She has given him her body, which is impressively sculpted, and when we see Nick in the nude during the weeks that follow we recognize why he is able to attract such a spry young woman. (Her cheekbones are particularly impressive; they radiate like the vibrant, enticing pouches of a squirrel.) She alleges that while the sex was consensual, Nick’s theft of an important map she kept for reasons afterwards was most certainly not. She is very angry at him for awhile until they discover a tomb beneath the earth.
The couple escorts this historical find by airplane out of Iraq. On the way, the plane crashes and Nick gives Jennifer the only working parachute on the flight. She is grateful for his sacrifice, and when she finds out that he survived the crash through some kind of wonderful miracle, she is so appreciative that she is like, “Want to get dinner?” When a woman asks you if you want to get dinner, it means something very different from what it would ostensibly seem, and Nick’s experience the following evening agrees with my observation.
Even though she now expresses to Nick that she cares for him and believes he is a good person, she never touches Nick again throughout the rest of The Mummy. She does take him to meet the other man in her life, I guess to compare them? Meanwhile Nick is having these little daydreams about another woman (Sofia Boutella), the woman in the tomb, an Egyptian princess who wanted to find a vessel for Set, the god of death.
This embalmed creature of power decides that Tom Cruise is the ideal person to embody such a deity and drowns Jennifer. Before she dies, Jennifer tells Nick that she is scared. He loves her so much that he brings her back to life a few minutes later, and she does not even spit water from her mouth or lungs. His decision is understandable. I mean, how many more young blondes will allow him to save their life in the near future, do you suppose? Not many: they will all probably be brunettes, so he should cling to this Jennifer.
It is a serious, tragic shame that everyone hated The Mummy so much, since a sequel where Tom Cruise plays the Egyptian God of death would be top tier. Unfortunately the direction of Alex Kurtzman (Fringe) is pretty cartoonish for the material – he is better known as a writer, and this script feels like it was worked over by every scribe in Hollywood. Nick and Jennifer literally have no preferences at all – there is nothing they enjoy. They have no family, no friends. It is like they are already in a tomb.
The pacing also suffers. For an adventure film, The Mummy never really goes anywhere. After the opening scenes in Iraq, the film returns to a particularly garish part of London and never really leaves it. It is rather unclear what the film’s $125m budget went to: Tom’s trailer and jet? The princess’ plan to take over the world or whatever is thwarted in a matter of scenes, in order to place the focus back where it belongs: the heart of Tom Cruise.
While she is imprisoned by Russell Crowe, the Egyptian princess threatens all the English people who have chosen to hold her captive. At first, she speaks in the old language. Nearby, London sits atop their quiet stronghold like a mother bird on a basket of eggs. The princess quickly learns English, proclaiming it a simple way of expression. Tom Cruise makes a face like he is maybe about to object, but then he blows out the air in his lungs and shuts the fuck up.
Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.