You know when you read articles about “the industry” and they discuss the degradation and dumbing down of audiences through the modern blockbuster? Warner Bros.’ reboot of Tomb Raider should now be at the top of that conversation. No intelligent audience will watch this movie and let its every trope, cliché, nonsensical plot point, or over-the-top dialogue escape their immediate viewing experience. The film nearly gets a pass for putting a talented Oscar-winning actress in its lead role and allowing her to take the spotlight, but not even Alicia Vikander can save this film from its own confusing mediocrity.
This remake of the popular video game adaptation sees Lara Croft (Vikander) as a poor bike courier in London, running away from her would-be inheritance that her father left her before jetting off seven years earlier to find the tomb of an ancient Japanese Queen. When her father’s will leads Lara to finding his hidden research and the mysterious island that he disappeared to, Lara embarks on a perilous journey to either rescue her long-lost father, or at least find answers.
The basic plot is simple enough, or so one would think. Instead, screenwriters Alastair Siddons (Trespass Against Us) and Geneva Robertson-Dworet (upcoming Captain Marvel, crossing our fingers) seemed to have gone out of their way to make the plot of this film nearly incomprehensible. It is unclear throughout, aside from the flimsy colonial explanations, as to why any of the explorers are interested in finding this tomb in the first place. Sure, it belongs to an ancient Japanese Queen who was known to possess supernatural powers that involved killing anyone she touched, but why that would prompt a basic British businessman like Lara’s father to abandon his young child is beyond me. Furthermore, the constant tease of the supernatural throughout is not at all paid off, which would have ultimately helped the movie
The supporting players of the film are equally disappointing. Dominic West as Richard Croft and Walton Goggins as villain-slash-pawn Mathias Vogel were both under-utilized for their talent. Daniel Wu (Geostorm) as Lara’s unlikely traveling companion Lu Ren presents opportunity for intrigue, until he’s pushed aside halfway through the movie. The most interesting thing that this film does in terms of story is with Kristen Scott Thomas’ character. Without going into much detail, she presents an opportunity to take the story forward in unique ways for a potential sequel, which you can tell by the end of the film that Warner Bros. is definitely clamoring for.
To give director Roar Uthuag a little bit of credit, the film was shot with distinct detail, and the action sequences were the film’s highlights. The visual rising action will have the audience on the edge of their seats in the interim between confusing plot points. That said, I encourage anyone seeing this film to plan on a drinking game in which you take a sip each time Lara Croft dangles her body off a new surface (Ethan Hunt better watch his back). If anything, this film is a testament to the incredible amount of training that Vikander went through and was able to put into good use. She looks in incredible form throughout and really carries what she can of the film.
Verdict: 2 out of 5
I would actually encourage those considering watching this film to turn back to the original Angelina Jolie adaptations as an alternative. The new Tomb Raider does not add anything of value to the franchise and may even be a step back altogether. If you are a Vikander fan though, and love choreographed action sequences, I say go for it! But really, take me up on that drinking game.