In 1996 the world was introduced to a scrappy adventurer by the name of Lara Croft. She fought dinosaurs, ancient curses and travelled the globe, she was the Tomb Raider. She was one of the few female protagonists and her games sold incredibly well. The main reasons were the innovative gameplay and a generation of young boys falling in love with her, it was a simpler time. In 2001 a film was released starring Angelina Jolie and garnered many negative reviews but fans of the franchise loved it. So much so that a sequel was made in 2003 which did reasonably well even though it too was panned by critics.
Fast forward a decade to 2013 and Square Enix takes the action-adventure franchise in a new direction and it became so successful that a new rebooted film was put into production to capitalise on the success. This new Tomb Raider stars Oscar Winner Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Kirsitin Scott Thomas, and director Roar Uthuag.
This new iteration of Tomb Raider follows Lara Croft (Vikander) an aimless young woman who is searching for a purpose in life after the loss of her father (West) many years prior to the events of the film. She doesn’t want to take the reigns of her company as it will hammer the final nail in her father’s coffin. One day however when a friend of the family Anna (Scott Thomas) tells her she must move on and take responsibility for all her father worked for she agrees to sign. When at the office she is given a puzzle box which gives her the clues to unlock a side to her father she never knew about and this leads her to an island filled with secrets, enemies, and a possible ancient evil.
For fans of the Tomb Raider franchise you are in for a treat Alicia Vikander perfectly embodies the spirit of the legendary raider of tombs. She is oozing charm, warmth and is highly adept at rumbling with guys twice her size. She has chemistry with almost every character she meets whether they be friend or foe and when she’s called in to do the death-defying stunts she terrifies with her courage. The way the film is structured in its first act the audience fully understand Lara’s motivations, she’s a kid with a chip on her shoulder and is always out to prove herself without a handout from anyone.
What makes Tomb Raider work as a film is the 45 minute set up of Lara and her world as well as the relationship she had with her father before his disappearance. Once the film heads into the second act we see the action set pieces ramp up and they are all fairly impressive with a couple of highlights. We are also introduced to the villain of the piece Mathias Vogel (Goggins). He’s an interesting villain who comes across as a twisted version of Lara’s father because all his motivations in the film stem from him trying to get back to his family. With Goggins’ crazy-eyed acting he sells this man on a mission persona and at times he can be quite unnerving. There is also Daniel Wu who plays Lu Ren Lara’s companion in this adventure. He has some great chemistry with Lara and has a journey in the film that is tangential to what is going on with Lara, it’s quite fascinating.
The problems with Tomb Raider start to creep in during the third act of the film when the film jumps the shark and introduces an element that I felt unnecessary I won’t go into any details as it’s in spoiler country but when you’ll see it you’ll likely feel the same as me. Also, this version of Tomb Raider draws inspiration from the 2013 version of the character, so much so that there are several moments that are seemingly ripped from the videogame itself. One such incident centres around Lara and a rushing river that many fans of that videogame may recognise. The score also feels like something that a pretender to the throne of Hans Zimmer may try their hand at so it feels completely generic. With a lot of Tomb Raider stories the main grab is, of course, the treasure sought after by both the baddies and the goodies and in this, it’s the power of an ancient evil. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t go all out with its execution and it’s disappointing, not bad just disappointing. And worst of all in my opinion if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the final scene of the film which is just unforgivable.
With an actor dedicated to making this iconic character their own and great action set pieces Tomb Raider is a great film. Just don’t expect to see anything new.