Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Derek Jacobi
Lara Croft has been running through jungles, caves, and ancient ruins, solving all manner of puzzles and problems since 1996 when the character made her first appearance for avid gamers. More than twenty years later and Lara Croft is making her third appearance on the silver screen, this time replacing Angelina Jolie with Alicia Vikander in the second franchise building film simply called “Tomb Raider”.
Director Roar Uthaug, director of somber-toned disaster film “The Wave” in 2015, takes Lara Croft back to the beginning, establishing an introduction to the character before she becomes the double-gun toting character gamers identify. This adventure film plays just like a video game during action scenes and functions narratively like a film eager to start production on the sequel.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a bicycle riding food delivery courier who refuses to give up hope concerning her father’s (Dominic West) mysterious disappearance. Lara is scrappy and tough, an attitude that has her taking a beating while refusing to tap out during a training scene and outsmarting a group of male bicyclists during a city chase scene. Lara is being coerced into taking over the Croft fortune and when a puzzle box reveals a secret about her father’s final adventure, the young adventurer is taken to an isolated island populated by a dangerous organization.
Alicia Vikander is working overtime here, providing Lara Croft with a charisma that makes the character work better than the script gives her opportunity. Still, Ms. Vikander makes the character likable while also displaying the physical toughness that allows her to do a majority of the action scene stunt work. It’s also refreshing to see the character, which has become an over-sexualized avatar throughout the years, stand on her own without a forced romantic relationship or the dependency of men to solve her problems.
Unfortunately, much of what transpires narratively in “Tomb Raider” falls all over itself in an attempt to push the character towards the next movie. This leaves much of the emotional core of the film, which exists between Lara and her father’s relationship, to be surmised through sloppy flashbacks. The villain here, played by Walton Goggins, doesn’t have much of a purpose in the second act beyond getting to hidden tomb before Lara does. This is the point in the film when “Tomb Raider” turns into a video game, providing missions for Lara to accomplish in order to get to the next dangerous level of the movie. It works in small amounts but quickly loses its effectiveness.
“Tomb Raider” is a decent action film, which unfortunately isn’t saying much in today’s superhero heavy cinemas, but Alicia Vikander is good enough to keep everything moving from scene to scene. “Tomb Raider” is clearly a launching platform for a bigger franchise, and this obvious emphasis leaves the film void of the qualities that would have established a better hero to journey into future adventures with.
2.00 out of 5.00