One can argue if we needed another reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, but when you have Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft that is half of the battle right there, so why not? Directed by Norwegian director Roar Uthaug, this Tomb Raider is the complete origins story of how Lara Croft becomes the tomb raider. As the film opens, she is living check to check as a bicycle courier in London. Shunning her father’s vast money and her official title, she has opted to make it on her own. Her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) has disappeared while searching for Himiko, a mythical Queen of Yamatai, who is said have power of life and death, off of the coast of Japan. When Lara uncovers some startling facts about her father, she sets off to Japan to look for answers.
My understanding is that this Tomb Raider is extremely faithful to its source material for the game even down to some of its action sequences. I think that is why I liked this film. It is not great and there are a few things that I did not care for, but Ms. Vikander has shown up, ready to play. She is in near perfect condition and looks like a million bucks. She needed to be, too. She is punched, thrown, makes incredible jumps that only CGI could produce, shot at and chased through miles of jungle. I was exhausted just watching her. She carries this film from start to finish because there is not much else that does.
The main villain is Mathias Vogel (Walton Coggins) and he is about as standard a villain as they come. I did not find him particularly threatening or menacing; more of an annoyance than anything. I love Walton Coggins, too. He stole the show in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and has never let me down. He does what he can with Vogel but the character is so thinly drawn there is no depth to him at all. He is there to give something for Lara to play off of. That is all. The plot is a rehash of other adventure films and the final act lends more to Raiders of the Lost Ark than anything. But fortunately, Ms. Vikander comes to the rescue.
I did not have a problem with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. She seemed to fit the role just fine. But Alicia Vikander really feels at home in this character and so did I with her performance. The supporting cast is sufficient but not anything special with West, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi all being largely wasted in roles that are one dimensional or screen time so scant that you would hardly notice them at all if you didn’t know who they were to begin with. The script, penned by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, is decent enough to get the viewers through the film but it is not breaking new ground. The score by Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg) is terrific as is the cinematography George Richmond.
Not too worry though, Tomb Raider has good pacing and energy by Vikander’s performance and Roar Uthaug’s energetic direction. Most of the action is well staged and fun. The film explains how and were Ms. Croft gets her trademark bow and arrow and her two famous guns, which was neat. Overall, Tomb Raider certainly has its flaws, but as this film stands, I liked the newest incarnation of Lara Croft and you can thank Alicia Vikander for that.
Tomb Raider – *** out of 5
Tomb Raider – Rated PG13 for language, violence, scenes of peril
Tomb Raider – Run time is 118 minutes
Tomb Raider is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.