Based on the most recent run of Tomb Raider video games comes this new and improved Tomb Raider film which grounds the adventures of Lara Croft closer to reality than Angelina Jolie‘s 2001 adaptation. The story follows a pre-tomb raiding Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) who after a shock discovery decides to venture towards her missing father’s last known location and uncover the secrets about what happened to him. I honestly didn’t have the highest of expectations going into this film as the trailers were decent but not incredible. It all hinged on whether the film could emulate a similar feel to the Square Enix video game which is very action packed and exciting. And thankfully I feel like this adaptation exhibits the tone of the Tomb Raider video games very well and has formulated a story that works for the big screen. There is an absolute tonne of fun to be had here, the story itself may be very paint-by-numbers all the way through but there’s plenty of tense action sequences, puzzle solving and thrilling chase sequences to keep you invested.
I need to kick this off by highlighting the incredible Alicia Vikander and her fantastic performance as a very strong and believably capable Lara Croft who I may even prefer over Jolie. She has a certain charm about her that makes her a likeable protagonist and can also pull out the survival skills when she needs to and kick some ass. She has a very charismatic, determined, and strong-willed personality and overall she’s just a very well fleshed out character who we see only get stronger with each passing moment. And when you have someone as immensely talented as Alicia Vikander it only enhances every one of her scenes as she proves here time and time again she can do the dramatic and emotional just as well as she can pull off action sequences convincingly. As far as villains go, Walton Goggins plays Mathias Vogel and he is great because he just has one of the most punchable faces in cinema and that is no different here. For the most part he plays a pretty generic villain with a simple goal in mind but Goggins does bring a certain level of charisma to the role that sparks some life in him. They do briefly try to flesh the character out a little more and give him a bit of a loose backstory for some added depth but it’s never fully delved into.
Daniel Wu plays Lu Ren, someone who assists Laura on her journey and for his limited screen time he’s decent in the role. The problem with his character is he doesn’t really have much to do over the course of the film so when the story does occasionally check in with him it’s more of a distraction than it is intriguing.
The story itself as I’ve mentioned is very generic, I mean, you can probably lay out beat for beat the entire series of events by the end of the first act, and that has nothing to do with knowing the events of the game as this takes a large number of liberties. But also the fact that it’s very generic doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad as the action sequences and constant fast moving pace keep up the excitement level and I was very much invested for the majority of the last two acts. I left actually surprised at how thrilling some of the action-adventure sequences are and how well they are filmed to where I was genuinely on the edge of my seat for a number of moments. There are a handful of moments where the CGI isn’t completely up to scratch and it’s momentarily noticeable but I mean, due to the amount of fun I was having I barely took notice of it. As far as the tone goes it takes itself pretty seriously and isn’t constantly going for the joke, which I think worked for the story. It feels a lot like the Tomb Raider game (which is obviously good) and even Uncharted at times without Nathan Drake’s smartassery outlining every scene. There’s one, maybe two moments where it does go for the joke unsuccessfully and it doesn’t need to because it goes against the tone established early on.
So overall I’m glad to say I enjoyed almost all of this Tomb Raider origin story reboot and had a tonne of fun from beginning to almost end. It does something with its final moments which I really wish it didn’t do because it’s extremely unnecessary and it doesn’t have much of a bearing on the story being told within this film. It’s disappointing they decided to close it off how they did but the rest of the movie can still be very much enjoyed. Alicia Vikander I can’t stress enough about how great she is in the role and proved everyone who was doubting her ability to play Lara Croft convincingly very wrong. Video game movies have constantly struggled to adapt the game’s story into a movie suitable format, and I’d say Tomb Raider has cemented itself as one of the better ones and well worth the watch.