There are some really great, exceptionally fun moments in ‘Tomb Raider’. But then, I could say the same thing about most theme park rides.
Essentially, what you see is what you get with this franchise re-boot; the running, jumping, brawling and overall athleticism you’d expect in a cinematic adaptation of a video game, with some supernatural forces, crumbling tombs and an assortment of bullets & arrows at play just so you’re not lulled to sleep by those six or seven minutes of collective dialogue. It makes for good popcorn entertainment, though its not like we haven’t seen this thrill package before – save for a talent with some serious thespian chops leading the charge.
Alicia Vikander inherits the role of Lara Croft and, with all due respect to Angelina Jolie, she’s certainly a step up. Not that Jolie wasn’t great, Croft remains one of her trademark performances….but somehow, her curvaceous glamazon never completely fit the bill for this character. Too cartoonish….yes, even for a flick for the Playstation crowd. Vikander, lean, scrappy (i.e., more than game in the action department) and willing to do most of the heavy dramatic lifting – not a department deep in bench strength, by the way – is a good choice for a contemporary Croft adventure. It’s just too bad this particular treasure hunt doesn’t ultimately uncover a whole lot of creative riches.
An origin story of sorts, the film has Lara trying to come to terms with the disappearance and supposed demise of her father (a suitably hammed-up effort from Dominic West). But once she discovers his secret study, chock full of evidence and clues that he might be alive and not necessarily well, but still chasing down a big ol’, world altering secret…..well the heck with a hefty inheritance, who wouldn’t rather wrestle with typhoons, waterfalls and ancient booby traps?
Together with boat captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), Lara travels to a mysterious island to do battle with a bad guy (Walter Goggins) who doesn’t appear to be as crazy as he is homesick; unlike similar screen villains, he doesn’t cackle with aspirations of wealth or global dominance, this guy is constantly moaning that he wants to go home.
The home stretch suggests that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Vikander’s Croft, and if you’re a fan of either the game or the original….or its sequel…..OR heck, ‘Indiana Jones’ for that matter….that isn’t a really bad thing, ’cause again, this IS a peppy action fix. Let’s just hope they uncover something new in spooky tombs to come.