by Dave B.
In Tomb Raider (2018, currently on HBO) Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a quasi-rebellious young woman unable to confront the near certainty that her father, who has been missing for seven years, is dead. Instead of accepting her inheritance as the heir of a multi-billion dollar corporate empire, she works as a delivery courier. Her life is flipped upside down when she visits her abandoned childhood home and discovers her father’s secret chamber that contains clues to his last whereabouts. Lara embarks on an adventure to find the truth about her father’s fate and finds herself ensnared in a conspiracy that could wipe out humanity.
Tomb Raider is a reboot of a movie franchise adapted from a video game franchise, so I wasn’t expecting much from it. In some respects, my prejudgment of it was spot-on. The movie is mediocre in most respects. The plot is unoriginal and predictable. The action is far from awe-inspiring. And nothing about the movie really inspires much interest in what will happen next. It’s not so much that Tomb Raider is bad when viewed in isolation. But compared to an iconic franchise in a similar genre, such as Indiana Jones, it’s clear that the effort that went into writing Tomb Raider is lacking. Perhaps most frustratingly, although it has puzzles like many adventure movies, it’s inconsistent in providing clues to solving the puzzles, instead it often just opts to have brilliant Lara twist some levers and sei-magically make stuff happen. This tendency prevents the audience from fully engaging in the film.
One of the movie’s bright spots however, is the performance of Vikander. Despite having perhaps the most annoying screams/yells in movie history, it’s obvious that she really threw herself into the role. She’s intelligent and charismatic and it would be much easier to root for Croft, if the character wasn’t written as a naïve fool. Vikander’s performance makes Croft likeable to some extent, but in future offerings from this franchise, the writers need to step up their game and give Croft more common sense to match her bravery.
On general principle, I can’t recommend Tomb Raider because it’s too lazily written for what is supposed to be an intelligent adventure movie, but I do think the rebooted franchise has a lot of potential. Particularly if it keeps Vikander in the lead role and finds a way to include more Daniel Wu (from Into the Badlands). He’s got a good action pedigree and acting chops that aren’t taken advantage of in this film. Tomb Raider is just acceptable enough that it has me somewhat interested in seeing what they’ll do in the next installment. I suppose from the studio’s perspective, it doesn’t really need to be much better than that.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.