Lara Croft was born in a video game, grew into a sexy big screen siren, then went to sleep for 15 years. Now she’s awake and roaring back in Tomb Raider. Since an entire generation has grown up between movies, the studio decided to make this an origin story. But before you roll your eyes and sigh you should know this retelling isn’t a retread. Alicia Vikander’s not a copy of a back-in-the-day Angelina Jolie. And her Lara doesn’t come with unshakable self confidence already installed.
We meet Miss Croft as she’s struggling to make ends meet as a bike courier in London, despite her family fortune be just a signature away. Lara’s dad, Lord Richard Croft (played convincingly by Dominic West), has been missing for years and despite numerous searches, has been declared legally dead. But Lara hasn’t believed it and finally agrees to sign the papers to make sure the family’s estate isn’t sold off.
This leads her to the first clue of what happened to her dad. A series of puzzles, harrowing encounters, more puzzles, life and death struggles, more puzzles, and a climactic life and death struggle follows. It’s everything you’d expect in a Tomb Raider film. But there’s so much more here.
Care About Croft
We are rooting for Lara to succeed from frame one. She is tough but vulnerable. The scenes of her with her mates in London get us up to speed on what’s happening without belaboring the backstory. We see her racing through the streets a bike, flirting with a cute guy at one of the restaurants she delivers for, and getting her butt kicked at a boxing gym. We think this scene is painful to watch.. until we see what she endures in the subsequent scenes. But it all helps us understand and appreciate Lara’s deep love for her father and refusing to believe what everyone else long ago accepted: that he’s gone.
Let’s Get Physical
Alicia trained hard for this role. And it’s not like she was an out of shape, wing-eating, beer-swilling slob before! Vikander told the Cocktail that she put on 12 pounds for this film. (We’ll talk more about that in our Cocktail Conversation with Alicia) And this movie puts her through her paces. There are a couple shots that are clearly green-screened. But the vast majority of stunts are her pushing her body to the max. We feel like we burned 1000 calories just watching the movie!
Time to Tomb Raid
After a lot (and we mean a lot) of work to get there, we finally arrive at the ancient tomb of the woman whose mere touch could bring instant death. Spoiler Alert: they still can despite centuries in a tomb. For the Crofts, this must be contained. For the villainous excavators this must be exploited. The climactic scene almost becomes laborious, but saves itself with heartfelt moments between Lara and her dad, and even Lara and Mathias, the guy trying to bring the tomb’s curse down on the world. And his death is especially creative and nasty.
Tomb Raider reincarnated is what it is, and a little bit more. The film is fun, action packed, but not over-the-top fantasy. The resolution doesn’t leave you rolling your eyes and actually has you wanting more (and more is definitely to come). Vikander gives us a Croft to care about, and that is probably the best part of the experience.
If you’re a huge fan of Lara, the game, or the film series then it’s definitely worth the money to see it in theaters. But if you have a 55″ TV or bigger, you can get a satisfying experience by waiting to see it on home video. Either way, stay to watch the credits.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Sake. The quest to unearth the Japanese tomb is fraught with danger. But once you learn why this woman is entombed far away from civilization, you will raise a glass to her sacrifice and Miss Croft!