Movie critic Esther McCarthy reviews The Mummy and Norman...
The Mummy (15A) **
This first movie in Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe, which will see the studio bring some of its most iconic horror characters back to life, promises darker and spookier territory. Yet it lacks the thrills and suspense needed to make it work.
Tom Cruise gives good Tom Cruise as Nick Morton, an army man who, along with a colleague, has been secretly stealing ancient antiquities from the Middle Eastern war zones in which they are based.
His carry-on has come to the attention of archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Peaky Blinders’ Annabelle Wallis) who suspects he has stolen a precious map from her.
She catches up with him just as he’s about to set about plundering an ancient burial site in Iraq - the location of which is exposed to them following a bomb attack.
They’re mystified when they find what is an Egyptian coffin and the secure seals and giant pool of mercury surrounding it suggests that people were determined to keep it closed and intact before it was interfered with.
The mummy, it emerges, is badass princess Ahmanet (Boutella), who was on the verge of sacrificing her lover in a revenge attack when she was entombed - and is determined to finish the job, with Cruise’s character now her intended victim.
Trouble is, she needs an ancient ceremonial dagger to complete the act and a vital piece of that is in London, where Russell Crowe’s Dr Jekyll is making plans of his own. Despite the efforts of all involved the whole enterprise feels flat and predictable.
Norman (15A) ****
Richard Gere plays the titlular character, a ‘businessman’ who inveigles his way into the lives of the rich and powerful as a fixer, a man who forms connections and makes things happen in the cut-throat world of politics.
Though it’s never spelt out, you get the sense that Norman is struggling financially and socially, and that many have seen through his need to schmooze with the best of them.
All that changes when Norman backs the right horse, an up-and-coming politician who is charismatic and influential, and takes a shine to him. When that man’s elected prime minister of Israel, Norman finds his stock rising among the New York Jewish community in which he lives, and becomes tempted by the trappings of power.
A morality tale and a folk tale, Norman explores what its leading character has to offer and his interactions with others (Charlotte Gainsbourg is a standout), often in caustic and telling detail.