A whole Lara adventure

by Shane Dillon
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Lara Croft – better known as the eponymous Tomb Raider (nobody tell Indiana Jones) – isn’t perhaps the most obvious of properties to reboot.

For most cinemagoers, just mentioning Tomb Raider brings up thoughts of Angelina Jolie’s early-2000s take on the then massively popular game series, itself a pop culture phenomenon.

Time, however, has not been particularly kind to the orginal games or the films, with Jolie’s dated cinema outings gathering about as much dust as the relics Lara used to chase.

However, never let it be said that Hollywood isn’t ready to resurrect its cash cows, and with the significant success of the recently rebooted videogame franchise, the film has gone to some lengths to capture a little of the same critical (and commercial) magic.

In short, Tomb Raider (Cert 12A, 120 mins) is an origins film that largely follows key beats of the great 2013 game’s relaunch, largely exploring how and why Lara became a fearless global adventurer.

Here, Alicia Vikander steps into Lara’s shoes, providing a fairly grounded character – even though her courier job is a little too ‘Hollywood’.

Some suspension of belief is required here, as Lara won’t accept the Croft family fortune that’s due to her after her adventurer father disappeared years ago, with his shadow looming large over her life.

It’s not too long however before circumstances send the posh bike courier off across the world on an awfully big adventure, with a mysterious, legendary island somewhere off the Japanese coast proving vital to her future – and possibly providing the key to mysteries from her past, too…

As an origins film that’s looking to reboot the franchise, it’s … fine.
Vikander does a good job in fleshing out Lara’s somewhat shallow character, given the slightly thankless task of crafting a Croft who evolves throughout the film.

In essence, Vikander’s Lara has to change from Bike Courier through Scared Survivor to Warrior Queen by the time the end credits roll, and in this, she succeeds nicely.

Stealing the best bits of the 2013 game, there are some great action setpieces here, handsomely filmed and edited, which at least feel grounded in a physicality that’s missing in too many CG-heavy blockbusters.

However, in ditching some of the unique narrative devices that a game can deploy versus the purely passive experience of watching a film, Tomb Raider falls a little flat.

Lara’s overriding need to Find Daddy (my technical term, there) also doesn’t quite sit right within the film, which bungles the tighter plot of the game it’s emulating.
Director Roar Uthaug has turned in a good but not great reboot, putting Lara on a steady footing for the inevitable sequel.

Verdict: 6/10

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