Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable names in gaming, she has such a huge appeal that people will know who she is without actually being a gamer. She has had multiple games across several console generations, been the face of Lucozade’s advertising campaign and survived multiple reboots. Lara is up there it’s the likes of Sonic, Mario, Link and many others as icons in the gaming community.
I say this as we have a new Tomb Raider film out and like the 2013 video game reboot Warner Brothers has decided to revamp the movie universe with an origin story and new actress taking over from Angelina Jolie.
We now have Oscar winner Alicia Vikander taking on the role as a younger less established Lara following a story very closely resembling the game reboot. In terms of Vikander casting I have to say she definitely looks the part, if you’re a fan of the rebooted games you’ll like how faithful the film is to her look with Vikander wearing an outfit almost identical to that Lara wears in the game.
Vikander also plays Lara well throughout the movie with her starting out as a bike messenger not really living up to her obvious potential and ending as the badass Tomb Raider we all know and love. The journey she takes to get there is well told if not a little cliched with her having an absent father figure and sort of step mum she won’t relate too. While she delivers her lines as best she can Vikander is let down by the movies script which is by far the weakest thing on show here.
There are dialogue choices by characters both important and secondary to the overall story that took me right out of the narrative and that coupled with supporting cast being incredibly under used makes for a film that is hanging almost solely on Vikander shoulders.
Saying that she does carry the film very well and your never too far from a well shot action seen with some genuinely emotional moments thrown in, given those are few and far between given the underlying narrative.
As mentioned the story closely resembles that of the 2013 game with Lara traveling to the lost island of Yamatai this time in search of her father who went missing several years prior. She finds a boat captain to take her and they both end up stranded on the island which is under the control of Mathias who is searching for a mythical Japanese queen who has powers.
Mathias is played by Walton Goggins who does the best with the script he has when he does get screen time and has a somewhat deeper character arc to being just another mercenary which most of the films villains are. Quite frankly he and the boat captain played by Daniel Wu are criminally underused but when they are on screen they both have great chemistry with Vikander.
The film also takes a twist on the supernatural elements of the video game which I found very appealing and those who have compared it to Indiana Jones seem to be watching a different film to me…
The best parts of the movie are the action set pieces that have Vikander showing her absolutely incredible physicality. From an MMA style fight to open the film to an escape scene down a river these moments are breathtaking and are pure glory to those who have played the same scenes in the game.
These scenes are pure Easter eggs that tie the game and the film together along with a glorious cameo by the hilarious Nick Frost as a dodgy pawn shop owner who ends up selling Lara her iconic dual pistols in the closing scene of the film. Is this a cheesy scene? Hell yes it is and to be honest I loved every second of it.
For better or worse those are the only comic relief scenes in the film as it tries to ensure the film is grounded in reality as much as possible. This choice to me is the main thing that separates this from being compared to the Jolie films as they were classic post 90’s action flicks that were sort of grounded but way out at the same time which worked then but wouldn’t really hold up today.
The end of the film clearly sets up for a second outing and despite the very mixed reviews it has I believe this is a solid start for a new era of Tomb Raider films.
- Alicia Vikander as Lara
- Action set pieces
- Underlying Narrative
- Faith to the source material
- Weak script
- Under used supporting cast
Tomb Raider is a classic origin story and has built a solid foundation on what will hopefully be a successful franchise lead by Vikander. While the script leaves something to be desired and supporting cast members are woefully under used but the base narrative, awesome action set pieces and the excellent portrayal of Lara by Alicia Vikander make this a worthy reboot of the franchise.