His character could also be lower from the identical material as Harrison Ford’s most celebrated function, however Fraser brings key parts to Rick O’Connell that makes his efficiency greater than a mere pastiche.
Appearing is an artwork kind, and behind each iconic character is an artist expressing themselves. Welcome to The Nice Performances, a recurring column exploring the artwork behind a few of cinema’s finest roles. On this entry, we study Brendan Fraser’s efficiency in The Mummy.
Until you’ve been dwelling in an underground bomb shelter your total life, you undoubtedly have seen one of many many enigmatic characters Brendan Fraser created all through the late Nineties and early 2000s. He was Hollywood’s favourite lunkhead, bringing ridiculous characters like Encino Man and George of the Jungle to life. However that didn’t pigeonhole him as a purely comedic actor, both. Between his sillier roles, he was additionally given the possibility to flex his dramatic muscle tissue with movies like Faculty Ties and Gods and Monsters. Brendan Fraser was so widespread within the late 90s as a result of he struck a novel steadiness. He was each a traditional Hollywood main man and a personality actor with a deft dealing with of bodily comedy.
Fraser’s bodily performances meant it was a foregone conclusion that he would finally be the lead in an motion film. His likelihood got here in 1999 with Stephen Sommers’ remake of the Common Horror traditional, The Mummy.
In Stephen Sommers’ movie, Fraser performs Rick O’Connell, a former member of the French Overseas Legion. Throughout a battle, he stumbles upon the misplaced metropolis of Hamunaptra, the traditional resting place of the titular mummy, Imhotep. Saved from execution by an novice Egyptologist, Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), Rick agrees to take her to Hamunaptra. Together with her brother, she needs to seek out the misplaced metropolis’s hidden treasures, together with an Egyptian Guide of the Useless. Unaware of the true powers the guide holds, Evelyn reads a passage reviving Imhotep. This causes a domino impact of chaos and destruction Rick should race to cease.
Brendan Fraser’s profession was on a trajectory to Hollywood stardom previous to The Mummy, however this was the movie that might make him one of many brightest new stars within the movie business. Nevertheless, the function that made him globally recognizable is deeply indebted to a different widespread motion character: Indiana Jones. A extra cynical particular person could have a look at Fraser’s efficiency in The Mummy and say, “He’s simply ripping off Harrison Ford,” which wouldn’t be altogether incorrect. It was one thing Roger Ebert even explicitly known as out in his unique evaluation of the movie, “Brendan Fraser performs Rick, a low-rent Indiana Jones who singlehandedly fights his manner via a bewildering collection of battles.”
However though Rick O’Connell is lower from the identical material as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s well-known creation, we don’t love Fraser’s efficiency as a result of he’s doing his finest impersonation of Harrison Ford. We love him as a result of he injects Rick with an amazing sense of affability. That is in direct distinction with the stoic nature of Ford’s characterization. Fraser is clearly enjoying with the identical Hollywood archetypes Ford used to create Indiana Jones. However it’s the geniality he infuses into Rick that lets the character stand by itself two ft.
That geniality comes out of Fraser opting to play this adventurous character with humor and panache. Harrison Ford has moments of rib-cracking levity all through the Indiana Jones collection, however Fraser’s Rick is a comedic character via and thru. He offers Rick sensible hesitations within the perilous conditions he finds himself in. This permits Fraser to make decisions the viewers can relate to in a manner we simply can’t with Indiana Jones. Ford’s efficiency doesn’t shrink back from his character’s utmost vulnerabilities, however we additionally don’t actually see Indiana Jones being something however heroically suave. You may’t say the identical about Fraser. He purposefully performs Rick as a reluctant hero. This offers him ample alternative so as to add in dashes of comedy amidst the explosive motion sequences.
That is completely exemplified in a second in the course of the movie’s climactic remaining struggle scene. As Rick saves Evelyn from the clutches of Imhotep, the mother sends a trio of undead guards to assault him. As they put together to strike, Rick roars like a lion. In return, he receives a hellish scream from the mummified guards. He pauses, contemplating his subsequent transfer earlier than he audibly says “Nuh-uh” and shortly flees.
That is related in tone to a second in Raiders of the Misplaced Ark the place Indiana Jones pulls out a pistol to shoot a sword-wielding villain fairly than soar right into a harmful brawl. Nevertheless, Indiana Jones’ reluctance to struggle nonetheless comes with an amazing air of badassery. That’s not what we see in Fraser’s Rick. His bellowing doesn’t strike worry into our hearts however fairly abject comedy. Slightly than tenuously going through his foes, he is aware of simply when to show tail and run from a struggle. That is an impulse everybody within the viewers can relate to–whether or not they wish to admit it or not. This once more speaks to one of many central explanation why we love Fraser’s efficiency. Rick is clearly an motion hero, however Fraser nonetheless makes character decisions the viewers can discover relatable.
Within the many years following The Mummy, we’ve continued to see new riffs on Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones, from Nolan North’s Nathan Drake within the Uncharted online game collection to the whole lot Chris Pratt has aspired to turn out to be since morphing from a lovable loser on Parks and Recreation to blockbuster motion hero in Guardians of the Galaxy. However the underlying tether tying these trendy characters collectively isn’t their correlations with Indiana Jones. It’s their lighthearted method to motion. That’s why these characters really feel extra influenced by the amiability of Fraser and never the smoldering charisma of Ford. Rick O’Connell will not be as outwardly cool as Indiana Jones. However Fraser’s distinctive allure makes his efficiency a lot greater than a carbon copy of Ford’s well-known character.
Brendan Fraser is experiencing a profession renaissance after fading into relative obscurity within the mid-2000s. He’s spoken in interviews about why he fell off of Hollywood’s radar–a combination of bodily accidents and emotional trauma–however he by no means fell out of the hearts and minds of these of us who grew up on the participating characters he performed in movies like The Mummy. Fraser’s return to Hollywood stardom has reached its zenith with the important acclaim he’s acquired for his efficiency in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. Due to his work on that movie, he’s coming into a brand new part of his profession that will very properly lead him to the Academy Awards. Right here’s hoping he makes a pitstop to present audiences yet one more likelihood to look at him play a personality like Rick O’Connell as soon as once more.
Associated Matters: The Nice Performances