Tomb Raider is an epic, tense and gripping thriller which definitely lives up to expectations.
The practicality of making a well-known and beloved video game into a film is always a challenge, especially considering that the property in question, Tomb Raider, has been attempted multiple times. Thankfully this newest attempt is far superior to those produced in 2001 and 2003. This iteration blends the conventional with the unconventional to make Tomb Raider a thrilling and enjoyable spectacle. Whether you are a viewer who wants to see Lara continuously running through tombs and caves, dodging the impossible and achieving the unlikely, or whether you want to see her journey, explaining why she is so resilient, stubborn or resourceful, Tomb Raider is able to equally satisfy both viewers.
Alicia Vikander portrays a determined, confident and stubborn Lara Croft, who, from the very start of the film, is doing her all not only to improve herself but to find out what happened to her Dad, who disappeared after going to the island of Yamatai. It is evident from the start that Lara is haunted by the presumed death of her father and is grieving; this is well captured via the flashbacks of Richard talking to a younger Lara. Both Maisy De Freitas and Emily Carey, who portray younger versions of Lara, do an excellent job of encapsulating some of the characteristics displayed by Alicia Vikander, namely the feistiness, independence and confidence.
Tomb Raider does an excellent job in displaying Lara Croft’s character arc and progression. Lara starts the film off being convincingly beaten in a boxing match, but builds her way up throughout the film to be a tough and battle hardened women who is able to defeat multiple enemies, sustain many serious injuries and still have the stamina and courage to face the next gruelling task. However, with this being said, Tomb Raider doesn’t hurriedly or unrealistically increase the abilities of Lara.
Tomb Raider also produces two strong, contrasting supporting characters in Richard Croft (Dominic West) and Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). Richard on the one hand, is a moral and selfless man, who leaves behind his daughter, and life of comfort to seek and, if need be, destroy the tomb of Himiko, which is said to hold a deadly disease which could wipe out the whole of humanity. Meanwhile Vogel, the film’s villain, is a self-centred, merciless, psychopathic and morally bankrupt villain who does whatever it takes to achieve his aim. His disregard for the implications of his actions and his lack of remorse makes him a very appealing villain who is easy to despise.
While Tomb Raider is on the whole a very good film it does have its shortcomings. One is that of the character of Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), who first is a drunkard and is disinterested in helping Lara reach the island, only agreeing to help after he is bribed thousands of dollars to take her to what he believes will be her inevitable death. Yet once he is on the island, he suddenly transforms into a willing accomplice of Lara, who is now willing to risk his life for her. This progression is far too rushed considering that he has limited screen time. Additionally some CGI, in particular the quality of certain green screen shots, is very poor. There are multiple occasions where it is used, such as when Lara flies or swings through the skies. and is blindingly obvious. While Tomb Raider has a couple of problems and like all actions films does verge on predictable at times, it is still an excellent film with a great cast and compelling storyline.
Tomb Raider (2018), directed by Roar Uthaug, is distributed in the UK by Warner Brothers Pictures, certificate 12a.