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The Nefertiri Detail That Makes No Sense In The Mummy Returns

The 2001 sequel to the 1999 remake of "The Mummy," "The Mummy Returns," is a rollicking piece of adventure cinema that provides plenty of thrills, chills, and spills. Taking place some years after the first film, it sees Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) happily married and trying to balance their adventures in archaeology with raising their son Alex (Freddie Boath) and wrangling Evelyn's slightly ne'er do-well brother Jonathan (John Hannah). When events conspire that see Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) returned from the grave by the reincarnation of his lost love Anck-su-namun (Patricia Velásquez), the group joins forces with their ally Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) in a race against time to save the planet from not only Imhotep but also the diabolical Scorpion King (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).

It's a fun film, a sequel that lives up to the potential of the first movie while leaning more into the action-adventure side of things over the more adventure-horror themes of the first movie. But for all that, there is a plot hole in the midst of all the action, one involving two characters meeting again for the first time. Confused? So are we.

The theme of reincarnation

One of the motifs the occurs in "The Mummy Returns" is that of reincarnation: Anck-su-namun is reborn in the body of the modern woman Meela Nais, Rick is the reincarnation of an ancient Medjai warrior, and it's revealed over the course of the film that Evelyn is the reincarnation of the Egyptian Princess Nefertiri, and that she and Anck-su-namun were rivals in their previous lives. And therein lies the problem. In "The Mummy," Evelyn meets Anck-su-namun, who looks upon her without a flicker of recognition. Yet in the second film, it's clear that Anck-su-namun knows exactly who she is, and the pair square off and resume their ancient feud.

The contradiction is a mystery, especially when such pains were taken to foreshadow the revelation that Rick has been reincarnated (the tattoo that Ardeth points out in the second movie as a clue to his origins is clearly visible in "The Mummy"). So why was this seemingly contradictory plot point allowed?

A possible explanation

When Anck-su-namun sees Evelyn, it's during the climactic scene in which Imhotep is attempting to sacrifice Evelyn to ensure the resurrection of his long-dead love. At this point, Anck-su-namun is a mummified corpse, and her state of mind is not what one would deem coherent or stable: she shrieks and hisses and is clearly not in a rational frame of mind. Once Rick frees Evelyn from her bonds, Anck-su-namun makes it a point to continually attack Evelyn and attempt to kill her. So the question is, was she acting out of simple, primal instinct, or is it possible she recognized Evelyn as Nefertiri reborn and was trying to kill her ancient rival?

The beauty of art is that it's subjective. What could appear to be a plot hole could, in fact, be more foreshadowing for events to be revealed, albeit so subtle it's not noticed at first. It's one of the reasons films like "The Mummy Returns" make for such fun viewing.