Hardcore survival in rain-lashed jungles and death-defying leaps: these are some of the elements of the high-action, thrilling adventures of the next gen Lara Croft. Alicia Vikander does an excellent job toughing it out as the famous archaeologist’s daughter in Tomb Raider, the third film to be made based on the popular video game series.
Stunts are performed with edge and emotional impact, making you believe Croft’s struggle is real, and it’s fun to see the character’s rise from a wayward young woman to a warrior. However, while the first half of the movie captivates, the remainder falls short of delivering a Tomb Raider on the epic, lavish scale we’ve come to expect.
This film takes its creative lead from some of the latest video games including the 2013 title, Tomb Raider, and the much-anticipated follow-up, Rise of the Tomb Raider. These are worth mentioning because they were a landmark shift in the character’s development, taking the sultry, thug-killing, British sex symbol and reinventing her as a brave, resourceful warrior.
The 2018 storyline adapts the gritty style and action yet fails to produce a stunning story that raises the stakes; instead of competing with the source material, it grossly undersells it.
In the games, Lara is an unskilled fighter who is shipwrecked and has to quickly learn how to kill. She encounters the eerie cultists, Oni and Baba Yaga. She travels to exotic locales like Constantinople, Syria and Russia, and she has an ardent, almost obsessive passion of ancient history and languages. But Vikander’s Lara doesn’t nearly have as exciting an adventure, nor does she have any university experience or specialised education. In fact, it does something that other great franchises have done which totally changes the whole feel of the character legend: it avoids the supernatural. It is something both Indiana Jones did with Crystal Skull and Unchartered hedged in A Thief’s End. As for impressive ruins and code-cracking skills, Lara Croft simply solves a couple of puzzles because, well, she was always considered very bright. Consider the very different tale if anyone took the professor element out of Indy. They’d be left with a reckless hero who’d never discovered the location of Well of Souls that led him to discovering the Ark of the Covenant.
All up, Tomb Raider is an okay film. Audiences will enjoy it more if they see it as enjoyable escapism, not as a true-to-heart homage to the video games. Alicia Vikander was a good choice for the role and it’ll be interesting to see what she can do with the sequel where they hopefully wade deeper into legend, myths and ruins. J.K.A. Short
‘Tomb Raider’ is in cinemas now.
View the trailer above.