I know little about the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider games, other than the fact that the character appears to be a female version of the Cliffhanger action heroes of yesterday and Indiana Jones, more specifically, of recent vintage. I also have seen the Angelina Jolie films based on the character/games and they certainly looked nice and Angelina Jolie made for a beautiful hero, but the films themselves…?
As is (sadly) the case with the passage of time, Ms. Jolie is no longer young enough for this franchise and in 2018 it was rebooted with Alicia Vikander in the titular role and…
…the more things change…!
The 2018 incarnation of Tomb Raider aims for a more grungier “look” versus the two previous film’s almost James Bondian look. If memory serves, the previous films also had more of a “fantastic/supernatural” element, which this movie hints at but ultimately tries to be more grounded.
The same essential plot elements from the first films are there: You have your young hero, her lost -and perhaps deceased- father (Dominic West), and trip to find the (possibly) supernatural whatzit while dealing with a villain. In this movie’s case, the villain is played by the usually reliable Walton Goggins who here looks like he was told by the director to act as if he’s sleep walking.
Ms. Vikander’s Lara Croft is aided -eventually- in her journey by Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) but, like pretty much all the characters presented in this film, he’s another cardboard cutout pretending to be a human being.
It’s a real head-scratcher to watch something like Tomb Raider because all the essential elements to a good film are there: Good budget, handsome production and effects, and for the most part usually reliable actors in the titular roles.
And yet to me the film never seems to hit any sort of spark despite all this. The movie starts with a too long bit involving who Lara Croft is, including the fact that she doesn’t want her missing father’s fortune. Despite being a zillionaire she lives hand to mouth and works for a restaurant delivering food. We are presented precious minutes of screen time showing how one of the family members of that restaurant, a younger man/son, is clearly smitten with Lara but doesn’t have the courage to ask her out. These good folks appear in this one scene and are never shown again and you’re left wondering how the hell this got put into the film proper and not left on the cutting room floor, where it deserved to be.
But that’s not all!
Even when we get to the actual story, one fairly dull sequence, action or not, is presented after the other until, voila!, the movie ends and, frankly, I was left wondering how something with so much going for it could wind up so dull.
Needless to say, I cannot recommend Tomb Raider. But, for what it’s worth, my wife liked it a lot more than me.
Take that as you will!