Tomb Raider - This Shorts-Free Video Game Of A Movie Tries Hard But Does Not Rock
Dir: Roar Uthaug
Starring Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Kristen Scott Thomas, Daniel Wu, Derek Jacobi
Bear in mind, the last time we saw anyone raiding a tomb on screen, it was Tom Cruise in The Mummy. And that didn’t work out for anyone. In fact, it proved to be something of a franchise killer.
Which could also be the fate of this new reboot of the video game that gave the world it’s first video sex symbol. (Oh yeah, and independent female hero, to boot.) The big question here is – is anyone actually waiting on this? Yes, the game continues to reinvent itself and has a large pre-fab audience. But does anyone really care about the two former movies? Did anyone really care about them back then? Yes, Angelina Jolie was great casting and they pushed a few box office buttons. But they’re hardy loved or well remembered a whopping fifteen years after the last one.
So the notion here is to reinvent and that means another origin story. Which is actually where the always wonderfully named Roar Uthaug’s movie is at its strongest. That, and with Alicia Vikander. Vikander brings a fully realised three dimensions to her 8-bit alter-ego. It’s a performance of far more subtlety and commitment than the film deserves, with moments of reality and even vulnerability laced in by the always compelling actress amidst and amongst all that one-arm hanging from precipices. (It’s always one arm – doesn’t the woman realise that two are quite often better than one in such circumstances?) Uthaug starts his movie well, introducing Lara Croft as a poor little rich girl lost, minus her fortune but retaining all her wits, with an impressive – and fun (let’s not forget the fun) – bicycle-based “fox hunt” through the streets of London. It bodes well, but soon we are busy getting bogged down in backstory and overwhelmed by daddy issues, courtesy of a slightly (and inappropriately) sleazy Dominic West.
After that, (and an awkward Nick Frost cameo), we’re off to the mythical islands, with the portentously supernatural tombs, and lots of chase scenes. All of which eschews the nuance of Vikander’s take on Lara in favour of lots of panting, sweating, and – yes – one-armed hanging.
It moves well enough – and it has Walton Goggins as the ostensible bad guy – but its descent into formula soon renders it lacking in the lustre department. Despite an almost pleasingly old-fashioned quality (1930s serials feel more the tone here, rather than Indiana Jones’ rewriting of them) that strangely leaves the film as a whole feeling curiously out of sorts with the contemporary blockbuster. (And this is a point in its favour.)
But, despite such few and far between winning moments, the all new Tomb Raider never full engages. It has whole sequences that give the impression that they should be exciting – but they’re not. Liked her (Vikander.) Like her take on her (Lara Croft.) Went searching, but didn’t find a lot else there.
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