Review: TOMB RAIDER (2018)



Directed by Roar Uthaug, TOMB RAIDER is an adaptation of the 2013 video game of the same name and a reboot of the film series that began in 2001. The 2013 video game is itself a reboot of the original video game series, which commenced in 1996 – more or less. This reboot of a reboot is pretty standard adventure movie fare, amounting to pretty standard experience all around.

There’s little doubt as to the initial selling features of TOMB RAIDER and its heroine Lara Croft, played in the first movie by Angelina Jolie with indisputable confidence despite dull surroundings. That confidence is of the more cowed, modern variety in the reboot, but Alicia Vikander’s take isn’t too bad.

Croft is living as a bike courier with a penchant for mixed-martial arts. Her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), has disappeared. Lara believes dear old dad is still alive and thus hasn’t signed the papers to claim her massive inheritance, at least until trouble strikes. This causes her to find a secret tomb, which in turns sets off a mystical adventure in search of her father and a magical MacGuffin.

The first thing to know about this Lara Croft is, as Vikander’s character states early, she’s “not that kind of Croft.” That references her turn as one of the people, which is to say that she’s comfortable on the run and having her ass kicked. This happens a multitude of times, starting with a bicycle chase through the city in which she ties on a foxtail. This patent bit of foreshadowing sets the tone.

TOMB RAIDER sets about on a first hour that grinds through establishing features, but such is the way of origin stories. There is the typical scattering of action/chase stuff, like when a group of kids steals her bag and she runs and subsequently runs them down. Or there’s the acquisition of a boat and its charming captain (Daniel Wu).

There are moments of struggle and churning grip, like when Lara first kills a dude. And there is the introduction of the bad guy (Walton Goggins), who handles things with pretty standard malevolence. A scene involving a tottering plane over a waterfall adds good humour. It’s mostly put over by Vikander’s facial expressions and timing, though, as the effects are boilerplate.

TOMB RAIDER is as expected. It looks like the rebooted video game, feels like it, behaves like it. The formula is as clear as day. Vikander’s turn may be efficient and more “complex” for the times, but the convergence of father issues and magical tomb-raiding doesn’t seem to matter. Is it “human?” Sure, I guess. But is it defiant, bracing or particularly exhilarating? No.


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