Reviews: Lara returns in Tomb Raider

Published On March 15, 2018 | By Garth Cremona | Film TV & Theatre, Reviews

Tomb Raider,
Directed by Roar Uthaug,
Starring Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas

Gaming icon (and indeed pop culture icon too) Lara Croft returns to our screens. This time we’re starting at the very beginning of her adventures, or basically from the Rise of the Tomb Raider game, as she wants to seek out the fate of her missing father. Travelling across the globe she uncovers a secret organisation called Trinity and needs to bring closure to her personal quest.

If I’m honest there is a likeable ham and cheese thing about the two Angelina Jolie-starring Tomb Raider movies that I can’t deny that I like. Sometimes you just want to disconnect completely from reality and enjoy the fun stupidity of action movies. With Jolie we got a basic cardboard cut-out of a Lara Croft, she physically matched the game’s depiction of our adventure loving woman, but that accent bothered me. Those two films were just fun, but as usual the devoted gamers out there were not happy, like they ever would be.

Here we get to know Lara from earlier on in her life. She’s working as a bike messenger around London, struggling to pay the bills and learning how to do some mixed martial arts. Her father has been missing for years and Lara is avoiding the pressure to have him pronounced legally dead. When she finally breaks down and goes to sign the papers she finds a puzzle box which leads to her travelling around the world to find him. Her father went missing searching for a Japanese queen who was known as the Queen of the Dead. Seeing as she doesn’t sign the papers she’s broke and must do her travelling on a budget. When she gets to the island where her father went missing she is met by a group of mercenaries lead by a man who is desperate for his mission to end. They are also trying to find the Queen, but do not know why, or where to look.

Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, and I have to give her credit she fits the role perfectly. Some dullards out there have been complaining that she isn’t built correctly for the role, and I have to be honest, you are idiots if you think that. Where Jolie didn’t bring her acting talents to her version of the character, Vikander seems to have approached this role with the same passion that she brought to Testament of Youth or Ex Machina roles. There is one moment, one fight scene on the island, where you see the anguish that Lara goes through when she realises that now it’s kill or be killed. The previous versions of the films would have had her a cold blooded killer straight from the start.

Joining in are Dominic West as her father, who goes from loving dad to obsessed fanatic, and Walton Goggins as the psycho mercenary, and no one plays psycho quite like this chap. The supporting cast all add to the film.

Where Tomb Raider really separates itself from the previous films is that there is actual character growth for Lara, and in the mix of action to drama – it’s more enjoyable. I do like Ham and Cheese, but there is little to none here of that. What we get is a starting point to move the character from. Where in the Jolie films we joined Lara in the middle of her raiding adventures, here Lara is lost. She is brought back down to earth by having little to no resources. The film takes the drama of the cut scenes and the action of the games and mixes them to the point where there is something for everyone.

The film isn’t perfect and won’t please everyone (what ever does, especially in genres with devoted fans?) but it pleased me, and even though I’ve been a fan since 1997 and the PS1 version of the game, this is the Tomb Raider film I wanted. One foot based in reality with some great set pieces. Where they go to after this though is anyone’s guess but if my two cents means anything, it really doesn’t, but I just want one thing… a T-Rex!

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About The Author

Garth Cremona

Garth Cremona is an Irish writer, as well as reviewer of films, comics and books

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