Tomb Raider, directed by Roar Uthaug, is an action-adventure film based on the popular video game series of the same name. Starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, the main protagonist of both mediums, the film traces the search for Lara’s father on a remote island in the Devil’s Sea, a treacherous place for any sailor who dares attempt to travel there.
The film begins with Lara Croft, a boxing, defiant bicycle delivery girl who is seemingly short on money. After accepting a challenge to be the “fox” in a bicycle chase game, Lara is apprehended and subsequently bailed out by Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas), a business partner of her presumed-dead father. When it is implied that Lara is the heir to her father Lord Richard Croft’s (Dominic West) fortune, she seems torn between holding out hope that he has survived an exotic adventure and signing the papers to accept her inheritance. Upon meeting with lawyers, Lara is given a Japanese puzzle that she recognizes as the kind her father used to do with her when she was young. Within the puzzle lies a key revealing the life’s work of her lost father, an avid adventurer and archaeologist.
After reading her father’s work regarding a mysterious Japanese queen who may hold the key to an unknown magical plague that has the ability to wipe out humanity as a whole, she learns that Richard Croft’s mission when he went missing was to make sure this power would not fall into the wrong hands. This leads Lara to hire a drunken sailor out of Hong Kong named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who will lead her to the Devil’s Sea and attempt to find the island where the fabled queen, Himiko, is said to be resting in a tomb.
The film has a lot of action, and Vikander’s Lara is a likeable protagonist and is a strong, legitimate female action hero. Many times, the movie feels like it is just a run of the mill action-adventure that audiences have seen countless times since the gold standard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, came out in 1980. The formulaic search for ancient relics and supernatural powers rooted in vague historical references is something that has been played out for a long time.
The supporting characters are not very well-developed and do not leave the audience with any lasting impression of them. Lord Richard Croft is a prototypical doting father who is separated from his daughter on his mission to meet his goal. Walton Goggins plays Mathias Vogel, who is the deranged leader of the group Trinity, who is also focused on finding Himiko to unleash her power. He is a less effective version of Belloch from the Indiana Jones franchise. Lu Ren brings some heroism to the movie, but the relationship between himself and Lara seems somewhat forced.
The most interesting part of the film are the visuals. Lara’s high-flying moves through the obstacles presented on the remote island are exactly what are expected in a franchise based on a video game. From the initial decision for her to go to find her father until the last scene, the action rarely stops.
In reality, though, for an action movie that is based on an adventure game, it seems to take itself a little too seriously. Another exotic adventure film released this year, Jumanji, has all of the characteristics of Tomb Raider, but much of it is tongue in cheek and relishes the fun of the adventure.
Tomb Raider is a movie that would be perfect for the background while getting work done, but is not going to hold up against the classic adventure movies.