Director: Roar Uthaug
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Alexandre Willaume
Written by: Alastair Siddons, (also story) Geneva Robertson-Dworet and (story) Evan Daugherty
Running Time: 118 mins
Release date: 14th March 2018
Every time a new video game adaptation hits our screens, there is much anticipation that it will be the saviour of the genre, which, to be frank, hasn’t always been successful. In recent times, Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed have both disappointed. Will a new reboot/reimagination of Tomb Raider, which already has had two big screen outings that were panned by critics, become the perfect video game adaptation, with a highly respected Oscar-winning actress in the lead? Sadly, no, but it’s not without trying.
Lara Croft is an independent daughter of an adventurer and wealthy businessman who has been missing, presumed dead, for seven years. When she discovers a hidden room in her father’s home, housing the notes to his escapades, with a videotape telling her to burn his notes on one expedition to a remote Japanese island, Lara decides to head off to discover the truth about her father, not realising that going against her father’s wishes will put her in extreme peril.
Based on the 2013 reboot of the video game series, the film is an origins tale that sees the early days of Croft, as a fiercely independent who refuses to live off her father’s wealth. We see her kickboxing and flying around the streets of London as a bicycle courier. This is one of the problems of the film and the believability fo the lead character. Just a failed match in the ring and a mildly pointless chase around London by bike isn’t proof enough that she can then go off to the middle of nowhere and survive a succession of adventures like climbing up mountains, hanging, one-handed, edges and being able to plunge hundreds of feet into rapids.
It is also these perils that are problematic. When playing a computer game, you make the decisions on the character and if you make the wrong one, then your character perishes and you start that level again until you get it right. This cannot happen in a film, especially when the character you would be playing is the lead so as you watch her going through hell and back, you know she will be okay, which makes any moment of tension disperse. I know you can say that about any character in any action film but there are always some elements of peril. Here they just don’t materialise. Even the “twist” when it arrives is not exactly a twist and you can see it coming a mile off.
As it is, we spend a hefty chunk of the film watching Lara running, jumping and surviving death-defying falls, all the while acting like a cross between Indiana Jones and Rambo, armed with a bow and arrow, far more accurate with her shots than the countless baddies who have sights on their machine guns yet cannot hit a target close to them.
It is then up to Alicia Vikander to save the film and she does manage it. Just. The Oscar winner is a very watchable actress who fleshes out her characters and we have a Lara Croft who is slightly arrogant, passionate for her cause and who is another symbol of a strong woman who doesn’t rely on a male to save her. Not even a hint of a romance. She is independent to the tee! It’s just a shame that the material isn’t stronger and more interesting.
Tomb Raider is an improvement to the Angelina Jolie version. Some of the action sequences are well executed but most of the time they are filmed in such a frantic manner you are never sure what is going on. If Croft is to return (and the ending does hint at this) may be a stronger script and not just borrowing from The Temple of Doom.