We all remember Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, right? Back in 2001, Angelina Jolie fulfilled the dream casting of fans by becoming the live action realization of the video game heroine. While this movie is beloved by a very select few, Warner Bros. decided to capitalize on the resurgence of the Tomb Raider series and update the franchise for today’s audience. Although it doesn’t break the curse of video game adaptations, this film has a fun ride.
(This review is spoiler-free)
Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, a young woman who is looking to find her place in the world while dealing with the disappearance of her father. When she discovers her inheritance comes with a cryptic message and uncovers her father’s hobby as an explorer, Lara decides to follow her father’s research and embark on a perilous quest for answers.
This treasure-island adventure story grounded in 2018 is anchored by the Oscar-winning actress’ performance. Alicia Vikander clearly showed that she’s physically prepared for this role with brutal pullups and jump-squats that are part of the action-movie bootcamp to prepare the actor for the physical activity. Tiny but powerful, she’s a far cry from Jolie’s hourglass adventurer. It’s definitely a vast improvement for the heroine: a well-crafted backstory and grounding her as someone you could run into on the street (aside from being a treasure explorer). She also brings amazing grace into the role that you wouldn’t think comes naturally to her between chasing pickpockets and fighting mercenaries in hand-to-hand combat, but she balances it with the emotional weight of loss for Lara’s father, Richard Croft (Dominic West).
Walter Goggins, as the wild-eyed prospector type named Matthias, really gets into his character: a desperate man who has been in search of a treasure for far too long and willing to go to any lengths to find it. Lara’s partner, a boat captain (Daniel Wu), who has his own stake in the movie is serviceable at best, offering support for the hero when needed. Personally, I’m happy that they didn’t force a romance angle between the captain and the adventurer.
Director Roar Uthaug did a decent job with some cool visuals with a serviceable script that remained strictly standard; an awkward mix of action-movie exposition and Indiana Jones-style humor that doesn’t quite pay off. It tries to be Indiana Jones way too much and it didn’t succeed. The dialogue leaves something to be desired, though. The final scene leaves an open thread that can lead to a sequel, which I would be excited to see Vikander reprise the role. However, that’s not up to just me; it’s up to the whims of the entire movie-going public. This film is entertaining and worth a matinee viewing, at least.