Well, it could have been worse – just ask Angelina Jolie. Tomb Raider’s been revamped for the silver screen, with a fresh-faced Alicia Vikander stepping into the tank top of the iconic Lara Croft. Following in the footsteps of the fairly recent video game reboot, this blockbuster-on-a-budget attempts to ground the fledgling archaeologist, casting her as a fast food delivery girl in the opening exchanges.
All of the seeds for a sweeping adventure are planted in the opening minutes; Croft is a budding mixed martial artist struggling to make rent, and she’s got the street smarts to get out of any jam. Vikander – clearly in the role for the payday rather than the acclaim – marries sass to insecurity; the performance won’t make her career highlights reel, but she plays the part well enough.
Loosely following the plot of Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 reboot, this is essentially a coming of age tale with scissor kicks, as Lara learns of her missing father Richard Croft’s (Dominic West) voyage to Yamatai. The flick does away with complicated subplots, preferring to get straight-to-the-point with a simplicity that we appreciated. There’s even time for a sinking ship set-piece straight from the game.
The movie does look cheap outside of these spectacle moments; the opening and closing scenes in London use the real city as a backdrop and are nicely shot, but once Croft reaches the Japanese island it’s all very obviously crafted out of ply wood and polystyrene. The enemies (a nefarious group known as Trinity) are also paper-thin, and are never really given any context for what they’re doing and why.
Chief villain Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) epitomises this, as he hams up the screen in pantomime fashion; we see him shoot an innocent man point blank and from that moment we’re forced to believe that he’s the devil incarnate. Lara’s transition from scaredy-cat to Wonder Woman is similarly swift; her first kill is harrowing, but within five minutes she’s prancing about with a bow-and-arrow.
Switch your brain off and it’s not all bad, though. Vikander’s costume may have eaten up all $25 of the movie’s production budget, but money was clearly invested into a personal trainer, as her rippling abs and bulging biceps give her the appearance of an all action girl. She’s the smartest character in the movie, too, solving riddles that none of the bumbling male characters can manage. She’s awesome – as she should be.
But just because it’s not an abomination like we’ve come to expect from other adaptations, it’s still a pretty poor movie overall. In the pantheon of video game films, it’ll sit somewhere below Silent Hill but comfortably above Alone in the Dark. And do you know what? That’s not bad. But with so many better flicks in cinemas these days, we’d only really recommend this if you’re desperate for some dumb B-tier schlock.
What did you think of the new Tomb Raider movie? Would you like to see more of Alicia Vikander in this role? Raid a forgotten island in the comments section below.