14th March 2018 (UK)
Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.
Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins
In Tomb Raider, Alicia Vikander stars as Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of famed explorer Richard Croft (Dominic West) who has been missing for seven years. Working as a bike courier in London, she shirks any chance of inheriting the fortune left to her by Richard and instead opts to get by on her own hard work. When she reaches dire straits, however, she feels she has no choice but to accept the fact her dad is dead and claim what is rightfully hers. At the very last minute, she receives a clue to a potential whereabouts of her father: a mysterious island off the coast of Japan which is said to be the final resting place of a mythical queen. Upon her arrival at the island, she discovers the true power that this tomb could hold and comes face to face with Mathias Vogel, a man who wishes to profit from what lies within – and will stop anyone who gets in his way by any means necessary.
Vikander has clearly put the work in to pull off a more realistic looking Croft than Angelina Jolie’s busty action hero effort seen in 2001 and 2003 and is undoubtedly the highlight of the picture, but no amount of upper body strength will save her from the dull dialogue she (and the rest of the cast) are given from Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons’ script. Walton Goggins, who is responsible for one of the greatest TV villains ever seen in the form of Justified‘s Boyd Crowder, is criminally underwritten here as the thorn in Lara’s side and does little more than point his gun and bark orders. Goggins, champ that he is, does the best with what he’s been given but even if you’re not aware of his previous work (which I highly recommend you should familiarize yourself with at the first possible opportunity), it’s clear to see that Goggins’ potential has been toned down, tamed and leashed in Tomb Raider. His henchmen are nothing more than NPCs too whose job is to look muscular, make machine guns look like pistols when they hold them and intermittently yell “Get back to work!”
It does pick up when Croft finally delivers what the title promises and there’s some fun to be had in trying to decipher the few puzzles she’s faced with. Tomb Raider certainly can’t be faulted for at least attempting to maintain a fast pace too, but by doing so, meaningful character development is compromising leaving just rapid and heavily CGI-ed action set pieces. The lost father storyline isn’t as emotionally investing as intended either and if anything Lara seems to have made more problems than she solves by arriving on the island. There are some massive leaps in logic that are hard to overlook also – the standout one for me being a scene in which she finds herself miles away from her intended target only to be right next to them after a short run. There are a few occasions when the film ventures into almost plagiaristic territory, namely those events of another far more famous, whip cracking, wide-brimmed sable fedora-wearing adventurer – especially in its closing act.
What bothers me though is just how much of an identity crisis the character is having right now. The newer games are 18 rated in the UK for frequent violence and language, yet this film is 12A (PG-13 for the US). Obviously, I wasn’t expecting a bloodbath but 2018s Tomb Raider is nowhere near as gritty as the recently rebooted games, nor is it as over the top and playful as the Blockbuster fluff seen in Jolie’s 2001 version. It languishes in a middle ground of the two, never rising above mediocrity.
Simply put, Tomb Raider is the equivalent of watching someone else speedrun through the action, avoiding all collectibles, while you’re stuck as Player 2 with your controller unplugged. Vikander is a worthy successor to Jolie and her performance does the reinvigorated character justice, but unfortunately, the curse of the game to film adaptation remains unlifted.
Vikander is a worthy Croft
When finally in the Tomb, the film does have some exciting moments and puzzles
Fast paced meaning it's never actually boring
Nick Frost cameo
Underwritten villain and waste of Walton Goggins