More like Time Raider.
The video game movie appears to be a genre of film that Hollywood can’t seem to get right. A majority of them rank as bad and don’t rise above guilty pleasure status (*Doom, Mortal Kombat), and still represents a challenge for Hollywood to conquer. Despite it being a critical failure, the most successful and highest grossing video game adaptation of all time remains Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which featured an iconic turn from starlet Angelina Jolie as the popular character. 15 years after its unsuccessful sequel, Lara Croft Tom Raider: The Cradle of Life, Hollywood has decided to give the character another try, but this time in a more realistic fashion much like the successful 2013 video game reboot in 2018’s Tomb Raider.
Tomb Raider sees Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) struggling to make ends meet despite being the heiress to her father’s, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), estate. She struggles with this decision due to her belief her father is still alive despite his disappearance on an expedition looking for Himiko, the Queen of Yamatai whose legend proclaims she was buried alive by her generals due to her ability to kill anyone she touched. In a video recorded message Lara finds at her former home, her father proclaims a group called Trinity, led by Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), intends to uncover Himoko’s tomb and use her powers for a global genocide, and must be stopped. Lara sets off for an adventure with the help of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a ship captain, to find the island where Himiko is buried and stop Trinity before the genocide ensues.
In regards to its likeness to the recently rebooted 2013 video game and its 2015 sequel, Tomb Raider definitely nails the look. Alicia Vikander looks the part of the re-imagined Croft, and her physicality is put on full display in a fashion in which you fear for her safety and feel all the bruising punishment she endures throughout the film. This makes for some impressive action sequences, as the dangers of the jungle and the tomb she explores present various challenges but bear a striking resemblance to the games, making it a true adaptation.
Unfortunately, it takes way too long to get to this point, as the movie spends an inexcusable amount of time being boring in its attempt to set-up Lara’s back story Batman Begins-style instead of actually delivering what we came to see: Lara Croft raiding tombs. Instead, we get to see Croft participate in trivial bike races for money to help clear her debt (*because that was everyone’s favorite part of the “Tomb Raider” games) and her pout over being the heiress to a company and her daddy-dependent issues. To make matters worse, its not until the last 30 minutes of this overlong slog that we get to seeing any action in a tomb, a surprising development for a movie titled TOMB RAIDER based on the video game of the same name.
While Vikander nails the new look of the character, she doesn’t have the same screen presence as Angelina Jolie, and isn’t quite an action star in the making. Dominic West looks like he was dragged into being in the film, and is straining to appear happy to be there. Kristin Scott Thomas is thoroughly wasted in the film, that is until a preposterous Marvel-esque stinger/ reveal towards the end. The only two who manage to get anything out of their roles are Goggins and Wu, because a bored Goggins is still somewhat compelling and Wu is woefully underused despite his laid-back charisma.
Tomb Raider cannot break the curse of the video-game movie. Its an overlong slog and a sorry excuse for an action movie attempting to capitalize on the recent resurgence of the women’s empowerment movement. Sure, the film resembles the game in regards to its environments and look of its starlet, but it seems as if the filmmakers chose to focus solely on the aesthetics of the game instead of the actual game play, which will leave fans of the game wishing they stayed home and turned on their Playstation instead. In short, Tomb Raider doesn’t spend much time doing what its title suggests it should, and should be regarded as a “Time Raider” instead.
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars, skip it.
Tomb Raider stars Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Derek Jacobi, and Kristin Scott Thomas. It is in theaters March 16th.