For the latest big screen reboot of a popular franchise, Alicia Vikander steps into the role of Lara Croft, the strong-willed, ass-kicking action hero made famous by Angelina Jolie, in “Tomb Raider,” a foolishly fun action adventure costarring Walter Goggins, Dominic West and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Enthusiastically directed by Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (“The Wave”), this latest action lark stands out for its creatively conceived action sequences, relentless thrills and strong female protagonist, brought to being with gusto by the Oscar-nominated Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”). Although “Tomb Raider” never rises above B-Movie status, within the modest standards of a genre film, this exotically set and outlandishly plotted adventure offers enough enjoyably implausible excitement to please the action crowd. And while Vikander may not project the same degree of badass that Angelina Jolie did in her Lara Croft heyday, she still has a strong enough screen presence to carry this worthwhile reboot to box office glory.
In this latest version, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the freewheeling 21 year-old daughter of Richard Croft (Dominic West), a fabulously wealthy adventurer who has been missing since Lara’s teenage years. Choosing to work as a London bike courier instead of capitalizing on her mental and physical gifts, not to mention her sizable inheritance, Lara does all that she can to avoid dwelling on her dad’s death. But when Richard’s business partner (Kristin Scott Thomas) informs Lara that she must claim her father’s empire immediately or see it sold off, Lara reluctantly agrees, and uncovers some crucial clues to her father’s disappearance in the process.
Since her father disappeared while researching the tomb of Himiko, a mythical queen said to “control the power of life and death,” Lara travels to Hong Kong to follow in her father’s adventurous footsteps and hopefully unearth some facts about his disappearance. After seeking out the ship captain (Daniel Wu) Richard hired to help him find Yamatai, the mythical Japanese island where Himiko’s tomb is said to rest, the duo take to the choppy seas, where, after a shipwreck, they wash ashore on their intended destination and into the clutches of the ruthless expedition leader Mathias Vogel (Walter Goggins). Desperate to keep Himiko’s powers out of the hands of Vogel and the shady Trinity organization that funded his expedition, Lara dives headlong into the peril before her, tapping into an unknown reservoir of bravery and honoring her father’s legacy along the way.
With his first foray into studio filmmaking, Norwegian director Roar Uthaug delivers a wildly entertaining adventure that is sure to endear the Lara Croft character with the next generation of moviegoers. Although there are moments, particularly in the riotous last act of Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons’ doggedly thrilling screenplay, that prompt some eye-rolling given the cheesiness on display, the action is so deftly handled that moviegoers will have no problem embracing Croft’s far-fetched exploits. Among the standout action sequences are a boat-hopping foot chase around the Hong Kong seaport, a death-defying waterfall escape scene, and the subterranean showdown between Croft and Vogel in Himiko’s tomb. George Richmond’s dynamic cinematography effectively immerses viewers in the thrilling proceedings, while Junkie XL’s propulsive score nicely compliments the storyline’s swift pacing.
Reinvigorating a role forever attached to Angelina Jolie from her gung-ho performances in the 2001 and 2003 versions is no easy task, and while Alicia Vikander may not have the same degree of sexy and mischievousness that Jolie brought to the role, she stills impresses nonetheless, delivering an admirable performance full of physicality. Helping her on her treacherous journey is a well-rounded group of supporting performers, from Dominic West as Croft’s explorer father and Kristin Scott Thomas as his suspicious business partner to Daniel Wu as a courageous captain and Walter Goggins as the ridiculously sinister expedition leader Vogel.
By Lucas Mirabella
“Tomb Raider” introduces a fun action franchise to a new generation.
Running Time: 120 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language.