Tomb Raider (2018)
Tomb Raider (2018)

Genre: Action and Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Release Date: March 16th, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Roar Uthaug Actors: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Alexandre Willaume, Tamer Burjaq, Adrian Collins, Keenan Arrison, Andrian Mazive, Milton Schorr

 


 

L

ara Croft’s (Alicia Vikander) philanthropic, explorer father Lord Richard (Dominic West) has been missing for seven years. Her former guardian, Ana Miller (Kristen Scott Thomas), continuously pressures Lara to sign in absentia documents to transfer over her father’s sizable assets, but the strong-willed young girl refuses to give up hope. When Lara discovers a puzzle box that contains a clue to Richard’s last expedition, she learns of his journey to a long-lost isle in the perilous Devil’s Sea. Determined to find out what happened to her father, Lara hires audacious boat captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to take her to Yamatai Island. When the tempestuous waters surrounding their destination destroy Ren’s ship, Lara manages to reach the shore. But once there, she discovers that a fanatical militant group, led by ruthless tyrant Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), already inhabits the island – and has been tirelessly searching for the same dark secrets that Lord Croft sought to uncover so long ago.

Considering how terrible the previous “Tomb Raider” movies were, it shouldn’t be difficult for this latest adaptation to offer improvements. So, with little effort, the opening moments already prove to be superior to Angelina Jolie’s version, beginning with a far more realistically tough Lara Croft. Sans oversized bosoms, Vikander is a sharp, plucky, sensible update, free from the Bruce Wayne type of limitless wealth and superhuman gadgetry. Here, she can barely afford an apple; in fact, she works as a food courier and is willing to break the law for some quick cash. Clearly, she hasn’t lost her recklessness.

Lara is down to earth, witty, and girlish. But she’s also believably formidable – a quality that most action heroes considerably lack. Unfortunately, it’s not too long before viewers find out that she has access to a vast fortune, which she refuses to access, due to some strange superstition about what it might mean for her father. The act of signing paperwork as a legal formality won’t actually kill him, even if the law acknowledges his death. Plus, it would be a trivial form of retribution for his abandonment of her (a theme also found in this month’s “A Wrinkle in Time”). “We have responsibilities,” he explains, as he leaves his young daughter for what will turn out to be forever (or, until present day in the film), chasing a dream of saving the world, which is essentially just the hunt for legends and antiquities.

This sets her off on a mission to track down his last whereabouts, fueled by cruelly complex ciphers that Lord Croft couldn’t possibly have been certain she could solve (especially if he was presumed dead when she was still only 14 years old). And though she has an easy time of tinkering with puzzle boxes, the eventual string of deadly booby traps – each requiring expert deducing – becomes far more outrageous, impractical, and unrealistic. Intricate machinery surely wouldn’t operate after centuries of disuse and decay, since the tombs she raids contain relics that crumble into powder from their age. The booby traps are actually the worst elements of the film, as they propel the story into a realm of the supernatural, even if they don’t blatantly cross into the unnatural phenomena of the Indiana Jones franchise (though it’s not a true compliment, 2018’s “Tomb Raider” is what “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” should have been).

It does, however, borrow substantially from Jones’ adventures (particularly “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”), along with a number of other action pictures. Nevertheless, the seafaring disasters, hot pursuits, nail-biting rapids, machine-gun-toting enemies, hazards of rusty wreckage, and shootouts with her trusty bow and arrow make for thrilling action sequences that not only nod to the video game origins, but also stand on their own as expertly choreographed stunts. Even with noticeable CG manipulations and a number of convenient opportunities for escapes and attacks, Vikander’s performance aids in creating a sincerity around the character that makes her feel human. She bleeds and screams when injured; and she isn’t afraid to defend herself (going so far as to kill a villain when she absolutely ought to – something that doesn’t happen often enough in films that want to paint the heroine as unfittingly angelic). And she’s surprisingly independent. Rather than having the love interest or male counterpart come to her aid when she’s cornered or down, Ren basically stays out of her way or mulls over plans on the side, leaving the heroine alone to fight for herself, which she’s more than able to do. There are plenty of flaws in minor details and great strains on the realism (most notable when it comes to the booby traps), but Vikander is an incredibly suitable Lara Croft.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10