Review: Tomb Raider

 

Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander stars in the Tomb Raider reboot – a franchise that’s been dead since 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Hollywood does as Hollywood does and attempts to revive a franchise nobody was asking for. Vikander plays Lara Croft, the reckless rich girl who loves adventure has a knack for escaping death.

The plot is ripped from the Action Movie 101 manual. 7 years after Lara’s dad (played by Dominic West) mysteriously disappeared, she learns he wasn’t exactly who she thought he was. The old voice-from-the-grave via videotaped message trope is used to give Lara all the info she needs to find her father’s last whereabouts. Sidenote: This scene is one of the best movie tropes.  Somehow the camcorder battery still works after sitting in a dusty room for 7 years. This movie cares zero about how science or physics actually work.

In the video, Lara’s dad rambles on about an evil group called Trinity that’s focused on world domination, or world destruction, both,or [insert generic evil plot here]. Trinity is in search of Queen Himiko’s tomb. History says Himiko possesses unimaginable power and Trinity hopes to weaponize it. With the help of a man named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), Lara sets off to a small island off the coast of Japan to find out why her father disappeared 7 years ago.

Once on the island, Lara and Lu Ren work together to try and stop Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), the man in charge of leading Trinity’s expedition to find the tomb.

Tomb Raider has everything you want form an action adventure – mysterious treasure, shadowy organizations, tons of henchmen, and an over-the-top bad guy. It’s as if someone took every good action movie trope from the 80’s and stuffed it into a video game adaptation.

Alicia Vikander is a solid Lara Croft. She plays the character well and breathes new life into the franchise. All of her action scenes are well done, no matter how ridiculous it seems that she was able to survive.  Vikander gives Lara some much needed emotion while also being a capable action star. Lara’s not just a badass on a mission, you believe she loves her father and that’s why she makes her way to the island.

The best part of Lara’s action scenes is the use of mixed martial arts. It makes sense that someone her size would use MMA to get an advantage in a fight. There’s less gun shooting with this version of Lara and more choke holds and grappling.

The leap Lara Croft makes form delivery girl to Indiana Jones in just a few days is pretty hilarious – it’s literally only possible in a video game and that makes it perfect for this film. She should’ve died no less than 12 times during this film. The plane on the waterfall tries to kill her at least 5 times.

Walton Goggins shows up and delivers another solid villainous performance. The best part is his character is the motivation behind his evil actions. It isn’t money, the tomb, or world domination…he just wants to get home to his family. He’s a family man! Also a cold blooded killer, but a family man first. Goggins continues to show up in these supporting roles and deliver engaging performances, no matter good or bad the movie is.

Director Roar Uthaug (The Wave) directs the movie well and keeps the pace moving. There aren’t a lot of slow moments or wasted scenes. The audience is either getting an information dump that keeps the plot moving or they’re getting action – there are very few moments that don’t feed the plot.

Tomb Raider is a fun action adventure. Vikander is a star and she brings a fresh perspective to Lara Croft. As fresh as Vikander is, the film suffers from being more of the same. It’s 80’s action movie gumbo – a little Raiders of the Lost Ark, a pinch of Commando, and some Rambo sprinkled on top. The story is silly in the way 80’s action movies are without taking away from the seriousness of the plot.  Tomb Raider is enjoyable form beginning to end and may be the best video game adaptation ever made.

Grade: B

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