Tomb Raider movie review: A video game featuring Alicia Vikander

Most millennials have grown up trying to ‘backflip’ the same way Lara Croft does in the Tomb Raider video game. When it was announced that a new Lara Croft movie staring Alicia Vikander would be released soon, I must admit that the child in me was doing backflips with two pistols in hand.

The Tomb Raider franchise was made famous by Angelina Jolie, who ignited the fantasies of gaming nerds all around the world. But this movie focuses more on Lara Croft’s abilities as a female adventurer rather than her status as a sex symbol.

The latest installment of Tomb Raider tells story of Lara (Vikander) a 21-year-old woman who spends her days living carelessly while making her ends meet as a bike courier in modern day London. Haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her father Richard (Dominic West) seven years earlier, Lara insists on earning a living on her own despite inheriting a fortune. She turns down repeated requests from Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas, her father’s longtime business associate) to take over her family’s global enterprise, Croft Holdings. Everything changes when Lara learns the truth about her father and what he was up to, right before he vanished.

Written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, the story has a slow build up but keeps the audience hooked throughout. The story is a prequel to all previous Tomb Raider films as it shows the audience the early life of the Crofts. It also gives the audience a feeling that the movie is a build up for what was to come in the ‘future’.

The new Tomb Raider, like the old video game, is driven more by action than plot and aims to create the feeling that danger follows Lara, no matter where she goes. Ultimately, the film’s action scenes and set pieces feel more like challenges in a video game that Lara must take on in order to reach the next cut scene.

The cast has done a decent job, but Vikander as the protagonist stands out the most. Vikander has done justice to the role of Lara Croft and has played her role with confidence and grace.

Vikander overcomes some gruelling physical challenges and uses her brains without falling into the ‘objectification’ trap. Even so, this version of Lara is still pretty two-dimensional and lacks memorable personality traits. The only adjectives that can be used be used her are: reckless and determined. Lara’s relationship with her father doesn’t leave much of an emotional impact. It just serves as a plot device to motivate Lara and drive her character’s evolution in the film, more than anything else.

Daniel Wu plays the role of a drunken sailor Lu Ren with charisma and certain ruggedness needed to carry off role. Walton Goggins similarly does his part to make Mathias Vogel feel less like an ordinary villain and more like a world-weary antagonist whose aims are logical. Dominic West as Richard Croft has done a fairly good job as he brings in enough emotional resonance as Lara’s father to make her motivations well-justified as their scenes together are vital.

Director Roar Uthaug could have done a better job but given that there will be sequels to this film, it will be interesting to see how he will direct the next one. The cinematographer captures the action scene pretty well, especially the closely-cut fight scenes in the latter part of the film. What was disappointing though was the CGI was average for a Hollywood movie, especially in the case of the infamous traps that Lara has to evade in final scenes.

Overall, the movie is a joyful watch even though it plays on the same stereotypical script and feels like you’re in a video game. What is commendable though is that it is trying to break shackles a bit. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily deserve a visit to the theatres but one wouldn’t be disappointed if they did.

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