Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins
Director: Roar Uthaug
Running Time: 118 mins
Tomb Raider is an American film about Lara Croft, daughter to a long-missing adventurer, who finds herself travelling to the island where her father disappeared, where she encounters mystery, legends and danger.
Taking the same premise as the ‘hard reboot’ of the game series, Tomb Raider is pretty much as far as you can imagine from the campy action extravaganzas starring Angelina Jolie. In that, it is objectively a far better film, with entertaining action sequences, stronger performances and a generally more polished atmosphere, but it fails to go one further and really give you a good time due to an unfortunate lack of charisma and charm, leaving Tomb Raider as little more than your average, unmemorable action blockbuster.
I think that it’s first important to point out that I’ve never played the Tomb Raider games, neither the originals from the 90s nor the recent reboot, but I’m told that this film is a very faithful adaptation of the rebooted game, meaning that if you were a fan of that, it’s likely you’ll get a lot more out of this than I perhaps did. However, this film isn’t meant for only gamers, so it has to do something to entice general audiences as well.
Let’s start off with the positives. Unlike Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Cradle Of Life, the one big advantage of bringing the character back in a hard reboot like this is that everything feels a lot more intelligent, and a lot more polished. There’s none of the extreme silliness, idiocy or sheer messiness that made those films fall close to being so-bad-they’re-good, and as a result, watching this film feels a lot simpler and at times objectively entertaining.
The most entertaining and polished part of the whole film, for me, has to be the action sequences. Although the film’s opening scene is plagued with poor shaky cam, and a couple of later fight scenes are shot in what appears to be complete darkness, making it fairly difficult to see what’s going on, the majority of the action sequnces are really fast-paced, well-directed and entertaining to watch, as we see Croft thrown into all manner of situations, leaving her to battle her way out in a series of properly exciting bursts of action.
Another plus comes in the form of Alicia Vikander’s performance. It’s nowhere near on the level of the brilliantly self-aware and ironic turn from Angelina Jolie, but if you’re looking for a performance that feels hard-as-nails throughout, then Vikander does a great job, all the while bringing a tangible level of intelligence to the character that makes her a very likable lead throughout.
With all that said, however, I still found myself a little underwhelmed by Tomb Raider, simply because it doesn’t do anything to make itself stand out beyond the crowd of average action movies. The action itself is generally good, and I liked Vikander in the lead role, making for a pretty entertaining watch on a very superficial level. In truth, however, that’s about it.
Above all, the film’s story is really lacking in depth, using a very generic and predictable motivation for the character as she is driven by her love for her father to travel to this island, while the main villain is really nothing more than a bad guy who shoots people when he gets angry, and basically seems as if he wants to rule the world, featuring nowhere near the level of interesting writing necessary to make him in anyway fearful or threatening.
Secondly, this movie is really lacking in a certain charm. It’s a hard reboot, and deliberately serious and gritty as a result, but I have to confess that, while it’s objectively far better than the Angelina Jolie movies, this film definitely didn’t make me smile as much as those ones, as it fails to give itself any real charisma beyond being a bruiser action movie. That’s fine for being a run-of-the-mill blockbuster, but it’s just not enough to make a truly memorable or slightly more entertaining watch, which was disappointing to see.
Overall, I have to say that I did enjoy Tomb Raider, given its strong action sequences and lead performance, as well its generally more polished and impressive appearance when compared to the previous films. However, it’s not a film that will really entertain you to the core, failing to step outside the bounds of being a generic action blockbuster, and proving a less-than-enthralling watch all along the way, which is why I’m giving it a 7.2.