TOMB RAIDER Review: 6 out of 10 (Lara's Got Game)
TOMB RAIDER is the latest reboot of the film franchise based on the video game series of the same name. Directed by Norway’s Roar Uthaug it stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, who embarks on a perilous journey to her father's last-known destination, hoping to solve the mystery of his disappearance. Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, and Kristin Scott Thomas appear in supporting roles here as well.
As far as video game adaptations go, this is easily one of the better franchises, and this film is far better than either of the previous chapters starring Angelina Jolie. Whereas the previous films seemed far more interested in a male gaze and objectification of Croft as a feminine action hero, here Vikander’s Croft seems to have toned down the sizzle in favor of relatability. Gone are the egregious ass shots in skin-tight leather, replaced by a young woman who is struggling alone in the world, her missing father, and her own namesake. Once Lara comes to terms with her father’s disappearance and possible death, she goes to claim her inheritance in the billion-dollar company he owns. There, however, she finds a breadcrumb trail of clues that not only may offer her answers to her father’s disappearance…but could also show her the archeological obsession that consumed him. Soon, Lara is globetrotting around the world to Hong Kong and later to a remote island. There she faces Vogel (Goggins) who seeks the same secrets Lara does in a long forgotten tomb on the island. But are these secrets meant to stay buried?
TOMB RAIDER is a mixed bag of a reboot. The first hour is a great origin story and reboot that introduces us to a great character that is easy to invest in. Vikander is great here as Lara and shows vulnerability mixed with natural toughness and a charismatic likeability. Then the second half of the movie begins. Though Goggins loves to chew scenery as a baddie, the film chooses to change its focus off of our heroine and onto these one-dimensional characters. Worse, the action is so paint-by-the-numbers that the tension is quickly lost. There are puzzles to solve, but we simply watch Lara solve them rather than the script engaging the audience to consider the riddles or puzzles ourselves. The action is fine but mindless…and the endgame discoveries are so unoriginal that one wonders why in the world all these people spent so long hunting them down in the first place.
TOMB RAIDER ends up being a sort of knock-off Indiana Jones film. It has some fun but mindless action scenes in a film that should have been as smart and clever as the heroine. Taking the spotlight off Vikander for even a moment is a consistent mistake this film makes. It is a shame too since we want so badly for Lara to impress us with her cleverness, physicality, and witty banter. Instead, we end up witnessing her run around in a witless action film looking for something more interesting to do. It is a wasted opportunity to create a better movie for a strong female lead. It is an OK matinee adventure and likely enough to make the game franchise fans happy. But one must wonder what better film could have been made here.