Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe team up in The Mummy remake
TWO Hollywood heavyweights share the screen for the first time in The Mummy.
Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe have done hundreds of films between them, but have surprisingly never worked together until now.
And they certainly throw their weight around in the action film, a dark reboot of Universal's Mummy franchise set in modern London and Iraq.
"Russell is one of the greatest actors on the planet, so the two of them was unexpected miracle," director Alex Kurtzman tells Weekend.
"Sometimes your job as a director is to sit back and do absolutely nothing and let these brilliant people do their thing."
The Mummy is part of Universal Pictures' studio-wide reboot dubbed the Dark Universe.
Modern remakes of classic monster movies including Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Van Helsing will follow The Mummy.
"The studio is literally built on the back of monsters and they've been waiting quite a long time to figure out the right way to do it," Kurtzman says.
"When they came to me and my business partner Chris Morgan we talked about how to build the universe. It's so rare you get to make studio films in which the focus is so deeply on broken characters who aren't necessarily going to be fixed by the end of the film. If they're fixed then they're not monsters any more, and that made it very exciting."
The Mummy follows 'soldier of fortune' Nick (Cruise) and Egyptologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) after they accidentally unearth the remains of Princess Ahmanet entombed thousands of years ago by the Egyptians.
Sofia Boutella plays the vengeful princess, who was mummified alive after making a deal with the Egyptian god of death. When she's set loose, she selects Nick as her new sacrifice.
Crowe plays Dr Jekyll, yes that Dr Jekyll, who has found a way of subduing his alter ego and is on a mission to rid the world of evil forces.
"Tom's character discovers not only that the mummy exists but she exists in a larger world of gods and monsters and we needed a mouthpiece for what that world was," Kurtzman says.
"It needed to be someone who had a connection to evil and who had been studying it for a long time."
The film features some impressive stunts, including a scene in a freefalling military plane shot using zero gravity plane flights.
The cast and crew only got 22 seconds of zero gravity per parabolic arc and only 16 arcs per flight, so several days of twice-daily flights were needed to capture the entire sequence.
"I wanted you to feel you were in the plane as it was going down, and that it wasn't being created in cuts and there were no stunt doubles," Kurtzman says.
"We prepared that sequence for nine months; there's some very complicated choreography. The chaos of shooting in zero gravity is what makes it great. You don't know quite what's going to happen."
New technologies and a darker approach make the new Mummy very different from the original films starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.
"I think that we live in a time where now the standard is different than when The Mummy came out in 1999," Kurtzman says.
"I love the idea of bringing the film to modern day and making it feel real and visceral and grounded.
"My hope is audiences will be hungry for something else."
The Mummy opens nationally on Thursday.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson.
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Reviewer's last word: An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia in this dark and modern reboot of The Mummy franchise.
Star profile: Sofia Boutella
Quirky fact: Is a classically trained dancer who has performed with Madonna and Rihanna.
Best known for: Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service, StreetDance 2.
If you like this movie you'll like these: Star Trek, Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow.
Quote: "I truly believe the discipline I have honed as a dancer will bring me more opportunities as an actor."