Possible spoilers ahead!
“Tomb Raider” introduces audiences to the new Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), a 21-year-old woman who spends her days taking boxing lessons and making ends meet as a bike courier in London. Despite having access to a massive inheritance, Lara insists on living a quiet life, earning her own money. She refuses repeated requests from Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas) – her father’s longtime business associate – to take over her family’s global enterprise, Croft Holdings. We soon learn that Lara’s decision for this is because she is still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her father Richard (Dominic West) seven years earlier.
However, everything changes when Lara finds a video Richard left for her explaining he was investigating the legend of Himiko, the Queen of Yamatai. His goal was to find her tomb to keep it safe, but a man named Matthias Vogel (Walton Goggins), and the mysterious organization he works for called Trinity, was also looking for Himiko’s tomb when he disappeared.
Richard warns Lara about Trinity’s evil plans, and asks her to destroy all of his research on the matter. But instead, With the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), Lara decides to go searching for the elusive island of Yamatai, in the hope of learning what really happened to her father so many years ago.
Thank you movie gods, we finally got a good Tomb Raider movie! Gone is all the glamour shots that the Angelina Jolie movies were known for. Gone are the cheesy villains, and boring henchmen. Also gone, are the bland love interests that Lara Croft had to deal with. Sorry Daniel Craig and Gerard Butler.
All of those awful things from the Jolie movies are history, and I couldn’t be happier. In the new “Tomb Raider,” those things have been replaced by a more grounded plot, solid action sequences, funny moments that felt natural, great locations, and much, much better acting courtesy of our new Tomb Raider, Alicia Vikander.
I thought Vikander was terrific as Lara Croft. She was able to give the character more depth than I thought could be possible. This Lara if far from perfect, and she makes her fair share of mistakes along the way. But we also get to see her grow into the character that people love. This Lara uses her brains to get out of jams, she’s able to do so without being overly sexualized like in the other films.
In this film, we witness her origins, and we’re there for her first kill, and her biggest heartache. One of the things I liked best was the fact that Vikander’s Lara Croft actually got hurt. She’s not a superhero, so it makes sense for her to suffer injuries as the adventure on this strange island unfolds.
Alicia Vikander is easily this film’s best asset. But I’d be lying if I said everything else was perfect. I thought Walton Goggins’ villain was average at best. We don’t learn much about him other than he works for Trinity and has a family he hasn’t seen in seven years. I could have forgiven this, but we don’t even learn anything about Trinity.
Another issue I had with the film was the character of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu). I liked Lu, because he wasn’t a love interest. He was just a guy who was in a similar position as Lara. His introduction was funny, and he proved to be a valuable ally.
But, he wasn’t in the movie nearly enough. There are actually huge block of the film in which he’s not in the picture, and that sucked. If “Tomb Raider” gets a sequel, I hope they bring him back because there is a lot of potential in Lu Ren.
In a related topic, the audience in the theater went wild when Nick Frost appeared as Max, a pawn shop owner and gun salesman. His one on one scene with Vikander was a highlight of the film, but jus like Daniel Wu, Nick Frost is barely in the movie. Fros gets two scenes, just two. This was a huge disappointment, and you could tell the audience wanted to see more of him.
Regardless of my few complaints, “Tomb Raider” is a good, fun, fast paced action movie. This is the type of movie anyone can enjoy, even those who have never played a Tomb Raider game. But I have to admit that I even forgot this was a video game movie, it was that much fun.
At the end of the day, Alicia Vikander’s performance alone is worth the price of admission. So please Warner Bros. make another “Tomb Raider,” because you’ve started something good here.
“Tomb Raider” score: B+