I hadn’t been an active gamer in so long, yet I still have fond memories of the Tomb Raider video games. For that reason alone, my expectations for Tomb Raider were never set on being the highest but it was hard enough for me to turn down an opportunity to see Alicia Vikander as an action star. With virtually no expectations having been set for Tomb Raider, what I did not expect to get from it was also a solid action film that seems to know its own limits and works well enough within them. It does its job well as a video game movie and already plays out perfectly like a call back to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, and as is, it’s also quite fun.
Alicia Vikander stars as Lara Croft in this new rendition of the Tomb Raider films, as she sets out on another adventure to an uncharted island in order to find the whereabouts of her missing father – only to end up running into more trouble on the way. At its best, the film’s action should be enough to keep oneself engaged for the running time, because it gives Lara Croft herself the perfect introduction to the screen and allows for her energy to shine everywhere possible. At its worst, though, you can take the basic story outline and think to yourself about how you could sit back and just watch Raiders of the Lost Ark instead – but it’s not a fault of the film that it knows the very limits to which it is confined within considering the fact that it’s based on a video game.
For as easy as it is to say that video game movies are destined to fail, there’s quite a lot about Tomb Raider that keeps it from sinking down to that very low – because Roar Uthaug’s direction still offers enough energy within the action sequences to keep you invested just as he would give room for the talents of the cast to shine. With a supporting cast that includes the likes of Daniel Wu, Dominic West, and Walton Goggins, there’s a reasonable amount of talent that should at least be able to keep the film flowing nicely. Uthaug never stretches the limits too far because it plays out like a work of pure pulp, where it’s easiest to have fun as it never takes itself as overtly seriously as it possibly could have been.
What’s most impressive though about Tomb Raider is how well does it craft Lara Croft as a character. Beyond Alicia Vikander’s very presence giving the energy that Tomb Raider would need in order to capture the essence that defines Lara Croft herself, it’s hard enough for me to fault what Uthaug created here because she is always seen as a powerful force not to be messed with – without ever needing to gaze as a means of excusing the rather overly predictable storyline. Sure, this Tomb Raider doesn’t quite rise above predictability but to have a better grasp at how she was motivated to come on board with this adventure. Beyond the typically cheesy expository intro explaining the events set to come, it takes more than just a look at Vikander to believe that she is Lara Croft, she lives and breathes the character through and through.
The original Tomb Raider movies starring Angelina Jolie were never good, but this movie manages to form its own identity as is. For one, it’s better off that we have another rendition of Tomb Raider that doesn’t present Lara Croft as a figure for the purpose of ogling. But to see what a film like this managed to work within given its own limits, it finds itself above many other films based on video games because it does its very best to capture the essences that would remind oneself of what it was like to play the video game. And given what Vikander managed to work with as she played Lara Croft, I also wouldn’t mind getting a sequel.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Warner Bros.
Directed by Roar Uthaug
Screenplay by Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, from the video game by Crystal Dynamics
Produced by Graham King
Starring Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas
Release Year: 2018
Running Time: 118 minutes