Let’s take just a minute here to talk about Brendan Fraser. He really is quite the anomaly among Hollywood actors. He seems, in certain movies, to possess a degree of movie star swagger and bravado, yet his true persona seems to be somewhere on the level of Encino Man. He seems to be able to swing jauntily from Gods and Monsters, which is a highbrow hard-hitting drama about the director of Frankenstein, while simultaneously he also seems to be very good at being George of the Jungle. In his best movie, The Mummy, he actually hits every note almost perfectly. The rumor is that the role of Rick O’Connel was offered to Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck. I feel confident in saying that none of those actors could have pulled off the challenges presented in The Mummy.
You see, I believe that there are lines in The Mummy that would be impossible for any other Hollywood actor to say, but Fraser pulls them off with the aforementioned grace and aplomb. That is to say that because of Brendan Fraser, you will be hard pressed to catch where the screenplay is bad. The same can also be said of Rachel Weisz, who has her breakout role here, and (wisely) did not go on to reprise her role in Mummy 3. Arnold Vosloo as the mummy himself is also good, but it’s Fraser that holds everything together. It is a performance so sincere that it circles back around sincere and becomes tongue in cheek again.
It was written and directed by Stephen Sommers who to the best of my knowledge has not come close the balance between camp and adventure that resides here. Though G.I. Joe is not half bad, it still is not exactly good either. The Mummy universe is one where there is a canopy under every open window. This is extremely efficient because the filmmakers do not have to go on establishing why it is safe for the heroes to jump out of open windows. Or dive off of burning riverboats. Or fly into a blizzard of sand that was breathed out of an undead Egyptian criminal from 4000 years ago. All of these elements were Sommers’ ideas so it’s hard to fault him because they are all pretty good. You know, for some one who’s previous movie was Deep Rising.
Next up … 74!