When faithfully adapting a video game as cinematic as the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, you face inevitable accusations of pointlessness, however good the film ends up being. After all, what good is watching a story if you can more excitingly be the central part of it? This problem is exacerbated tenfold if your film manages, as Roar Uthaug’s Tomb Raider does, to tell the original story less satisfyingly in its big screen incarnation.
Tomb Raider follows the game’s lead in giving us the origin story of Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) discovering her knack for action-packed archaeology on a remote Japanese island. However, the film wastes a lot of time in a slightly embarrassing opening segment in London, leaving nowhere near enough time on the island for relationships to develop or for the central mystery to make any real sense.
The action is competent, and it is valuable and refreshing to see a female-led fantasy adventure never once sexualise its hero, but wobbly effects let down the more spectacular sequences. However, as the stakes raise to ludicrous, world-ending levels, the script chucks believable character development out the window and Lara goes from highly competent but fallible survivalist to remorseless slaughter machine far too quickly. The game had the same problem, but at least had eight, rather than two, hours to combat this tonal whiplash.
Vikander makes for a fierce heroine, bringing a vital physicality to some bravura stunt work, but Dominic West is horribly wasted as her father. Walton Goggins acquits himself with dignity as conflicted, pragmatic villain Vogel, blessed as he is with the fewest cheesy one-liners and frantic speeches about ancient prophecies.
CAST: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas
DIRECTOR: Roar Uthaug
WRITERS: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alistair Siddons, Evan Daugherty
SYNOPSIS: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.