Thursday 15 March 2018

Film Review: Tomb Raider

Lara Croft goes back to basics in this punchy reboot starring Alicia Vikander. 

If ever there was a film series that benefited from rose-tinted glasses, it’s the original Tomb Raider duology starring Angelina Jolie; filled with pounding Euro techno, robots and riding motorbikes on the Great Wall of China, they didn’t just jump the shark, they punched said shark right in the face. I mean, who does she think she is – Mick Fanning?

Anyway, what I’m trying say is, the original Tomb Raider films weren’t exactly all that hot to begin with, which is why the arrival of this ‘gritty reboot’ (two words that should be banned from Hollywood lingo) should come as a welcome change of pace. Swapping Jolie for Academy Award-winner Alicia Vikander and giving the character the Casino Royale treatment by taking things back to basics, this reboot is solid and satisfying, if not spectacular.

Drawing heavily from Square Enix’s equally graphic 2013 reboot of the videogame series, Tomb Raider sees a young and orphaned Lara Croft (Vikander) swept up in a conspiracy that involves her missing presumed dead father (Dominic West) and a shadowy organisation called Trinity. On the trail for the truth behind her father’s disappearance, Lara bounces from London to Hong Kong and the remote Japanese island of Yamatai, where resides an ancient witch called Himiko, or so legend has it.

Although some of the game has been stripped away (gone are characters like Jonah, Roth and Sam), the basic premise and underlying tone is there. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug doesn’t pull his punches, with Lara dealt a series of gut-wrenching situations that are a far cry from Jolie’s dizzying Matrix-esque kicks and flips. Alone and hunted by a band of mercenaries, it’s ugly and painful when Lara is forced to kill for the first time – and Vikander really sells this vulnerability and grim determination.

That said, Tomb Raider still struggles to excel and rise above standard genre fare territory; the action is murky and chopped to pieces, the CGI is patchy and Tom Holkenberg’s score doesn’t afford this iteration of the character any potent or memorable motifs. Worst of all, its supporting cast is bland as anything; the likes of Daniel Wu, Nick Frost and Kristin Scott Thomas are unreservedly wasted.

Does Tomb Raider qualify as a quote/unquote intellectual movie? No, of course not – what were you expecting? It’s a Tomb Raider movie. It exists for the sole purpose of pitching a perky English heiress with dual pistols against dusty crypts, death traps and ancient curses. So in that regard, it sets out to fulfil more or less what it should, which is to be a diverting and entertaining two-hour adventure populated with all of the above, plus Walton Goggins, who is tragically underused and underwritten as the film’s sneering villain. 

The Verdict: 6.5/10

It’s far from perfect but it’s a marked step up from earlier iterations of the character; bloody and muddy, I’d be more than happy to step into the ring for a second round with Vikander’s steely take on this videogame icon.

Tomb Raider is in cinemas across Australia now.


  1. I want this to do well because it actually seems like it's better than the other two Tomb Raider films we have. Plus there has to be a video game movie that gets it right sometime.

    1. I think this is one of the best we've seen; still not great, but it borrows the aesthetic of the game without being a straight remake. Tonally, it's so much better than the other two TR movies.



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