Anybody still remember the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie? The 2001 and 2003 movies used to be my tentpole for female-led action movies. Jolie easily made her Lara Croft the female James Bond. It’s been more than a decade since they came out and now, Lara Croft’s story is being re-introduced to younger audiences. Starring Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider gets a fresh start to unearth her narrative. Is it worth digging? Find out!
The Inevitable Comparison
Sure, it is impossible not to compare Vikander’s Lara Croft with Jolie’s. While it may look inevitable at first glance, it is actually not fair since the latest movie is based from the 2013 video game which has a slightly different narrative from the source material of the early movies. In Tomb Raider, Croft is far from being a trained fighter. In fact, she was a delivery woman at the start of the movie. She was strapped for cash and can barely pay for her training, she was nowhere near the heir that people knew she is.
This set up smartly created the identity of the film. It is an origin story that attempted to balance action with mystery and emotions. To a point, it has been kind of confusing to find a plot to focus on: there is the search for Himiko’s tomb, Croft’s search for her father, and the Trinity mystery. As a non-gamer, it overwhelmed me with the in-game references thrown in the film’s plot. But as the film progressed, everything started making sense.
Just Keep Running
A Tomb Raider film is not complete without all the action, the adventure, and the running. Weirdly enough, it took the film quite a while to get to the essence of it. Some family drama and detour got in the way of getting to the good bits but the film rewarded that wait as soon as it got there. Vikander is physically great as Lara Croft. Her action sequences as a novice fighter was a remarkable one. From a chase scene at the docks in Hong Kong up to her escape from a rapids-stuck airplane, she created a believable young Lara Croft.
The film fumbled as it made way for side plots but once it hit the pedal to get the adventure running, it peaked. The entire escapade inside Himiko’s tomb is undoubtedly the highlight of the film. It elevated the stakes and it felt like a video game overall. The maze and the traps that awaited them had me holding my breath and sitting at the edge of my seat.
Tomb Raider is a smart move to re-introduce the character to this newer generation of audiences. It attempted to create a more human character out of Lara Croft but it just felt unnecessary, similar to a video game cutscene. With a ridiculous villain and forgettable side characters, Vikander steals the spotlight. Tomb Raider wanted to achieve too much but it should have just focused on delivering action after action because it is where the strength of the film lies.
Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Dominic West
Binge-level: 3.5 out of 5 stars