Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rick O'Connell: Underused Pulp Hero?

Rick (Ricochet) O'Connell, played by Brendan Fraser in three films: The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2001), and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), is, in my humble opinion, one of the most underused pulp heroes since Indiana Jones. At least Indiana had different adventures…..

Rick O'Connell was underused because of the potential stories that were not told. Let's look at a quick recap of the three films, and I will further explain what I mean. In the Mummy, (one of my favorite pulp movies) Rick and crew fight a mummy. Plenty of daring do, with a smart female lead Rachel Wiesz as Evelyn Carnahan, and awesome sidekick Jonathan Carnahan played by John Hannah. The trio reappear in the second movie, taking place ten years later, adding a lil' O'Connell to complicate the adventure. But the film was nearly as bad a frame by frame remake akin to the Star Wars Prequels…. But still fun filled daring do. The third deals with a Chinese mummy, and the now grown son of Rick and Evelyn; more original than the second film but some sameness. The disconnect here for me is Rick and Evelyn looking a little too fresh for folks pushing into their fifties (O'Connell would have been 48 in the film against Fraser's young 39), Maria Bello was a poor choice to replace the soft sexy of Rachel Wiesz, and the tired father/son rivalry that at least seemed less forced with other films; though all in all enjoyable as popcorn pulp.

As this is not a review of the movies but of O'Connell, we won't need to go any deeper than that for this article. As I stated Rick O'Connell is underused. This is a character, played with wonderful charisma by Fraser that could have been so much more than a mummy chaser. I feel the focus on the mummy aspect of sequels took away from what they could have done with the character. A soldier of fortune in the era that was the golden age of pulp is something that is almost too good to waste. I think the writers and Universal may have limited them selves on the potential. They stayed with a formula instead of using it as a spring board for further adventures.

The potential for plots were endless, without EVER touching on Jones territory. The films could have led to all the pulp destinations: Atlantis, Hollow Earth, the Orient, not just to fight Jet Li. With a two fisted adventurer like O'Connell, he could have fought the Tongs in Chinatown San Francisco and Nazi agents on the Empire State Building. With the movie time line roughly 1923 to 1947, there was a lot that could have been explored.

The Mummy even set O'Connell up for future plot devices and contacts. If he and Evelyn had fallen out, there is the reconciliation because he needs her expertise for a particular adventure. Jonathan, as he was in the Dragon Emperor, could be running a night club and Rick needed his help. Then there is the vast array of characters that Rick O'Connell could know from his past. With Rick being an orphan, his very parentage could have been a movie spring board (as it was retroactively shoehorned into the second Mummy film, but better).

Staying with the Egyptian archeological theme would have worked as well, as the second movie's opening demonstrated. Other legends of the vast ancient kingdom could have been explored without Imhotep ever coming back on the scene. The hollow Sphinx theory, the lost library of Alexandria, Troy, or ancient technologies that must be kept from Das Fuhrer would have been within the sphere of influence established in the first film.
The pyramids could have held even more secrets. Contact with other cultures like the Phoenicians could have seen a chase for treasures and glory all the way back to America, north and south.
With the void left by the inaction of Spielberg to capitalize on the popularity of Indiana Jones for nearly twenty years, I think Universal could have had a solid run at the box office for more than three films if they had not tried to make a trilogy of films based on the mummy premise. Not that the three movies did not make their money back and then some! In my opinion I think they, like most franchise style movies, got lazy, and went with what worked before.

The character of Rick O'Connell was one of the best pulp heroes of any age, ranking up there with Allan Quatermain , and almost every guy Humphrey Bogart played from Sam Spade on. Locking O'Connell into the mummy killing role took a huge potential away from the character. Rick O'Connell was the character that could have stereotyped Brenden Fraser. I mean that in a completely good, pulpy kinda way!


  1. I agree that they could easily spin O'Connell off from the Mummy franchise with little muss or fuss. The possibilities are absolutely endless. Start a petition to send to the studio... I will be the first to sign! :-)

  2. Rick O'Connell is my favorite actor because he's so handsome and also he knows how to perform during his movies, I'm a young woman and I fell in love with this man, the problem is I've heard he visit Viagra Pharmacy all time.