Lara Croft makes the leap to the big screen once again with 2018’s action adventure film, Tomb Raider. This time around it’s Alicia Vikander, best known for The Danish Girl and Ex Machina, subbing in for Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted). The success of the first two Lara Croft films rested squarely on Jolie’s shoulders, and 2018’s Tomb Raider requires the audience embrace and cheer on Vikander in the lead role. Jolie’s performance was the reason the original Tomb Raider films were watchable, and Vikander’s take on the character is what makes 2018’s Tomb Raider work as well as it does.
Video game loyalists have complained about Vikander’s lack of physical resemblance to the game’s Lara Croft, but it’s impossible to complain about her commitment to the role. Vikander put on muscle and looks believable enough in the part of an action heroine who dodges bullets, leaps from cliffs, and parkours her way through forests and a tomb. It’s not the action but the plot of this video game-inspired action film that lets Vikander down.
The film introduces Lara Croft as a bike messenger struggling to make ends meet. When her fellow messengers lay down a challenge with a cash reward, she flies through traffic in a wild race through city streets. The short introduction paves the way for the main story which finds Lara following clues left by her father who disappeared seven years earlier.
Attempting to replicate his final voyage, Lara ends up in Hong Kong where she convinces boat captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to follow the same course her father took years earlier. Lu is the son of the captain who piloted her dad to the uncharted island, and he’s also been left wondering what happened to his father all those years ago.
Lu and Lara form a “kids of missing dads” alliance, bonding over the fact they have so many unanswered questions. That bond comes in handy when Lu’s boat crashes into the rocks surrounding the island and they’re captured by mercenary Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins).
Lara and Lu are forced into helping Mathias try and locate the tomb of the evil Queen Himiko. Queen Himiko’s tomb is hidden deep inside the island and Richard Croft (Dominic West) was obsessed with keeping the cursed tomb from being opened. Mathias has been hired to dig up Queen Himiko’s 2,000-year-old corpse, commanding a team of men who force captives into doing the physical labor required to unearth the dead queen.
The film is Lara Croft’s story so of course she frees herself and sets about locating her father and stopping Mathias and his men from accomplishing their mission. She fearlessly goes about that task, delivering blows, shooting arrows, and basically kicking as much a** as possible.
Director Roar Uthaug doesn’t skimp on the action sequences, and the camera work and choreography are to be commended for allowing the audience to easily track who’s who in fight scenes. Video gamers will appreciate the scenes inside the tomb as they’re the closest the movies comes to capturing the feel of the game. Unfortunately, the incredible heart-pounding bike race at the start of the film proves too much for the movie to live up to as none of the subsequent action scenes generate the same adrenaline-pumping response.
It’s disappointing the plot’s incredibly basic and the supporting characters are never fully developed. This Tomb Raider’s only concerned with Lara Croft, with not much thought given to surrounding her with interesting characters. Vikander’s performance carries the film, but everyone else on screen is forgettable. If there’s a sequel, Vikander deserves a better story to sink her teeth into.
Release Date: March 16, 2018
Running Time: 1 hr 58 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language