Tomb Raider film review: Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, pulls off video-game reboot
Swedish actress acquits herself well as chiselled, cold-blooded killer Croft, who heads to Japan via Hong Kong in quest to find tomb of a death queen, but film’s plot is derivative, the dialogue clunky and the action scenes edited to ribbons
Fifteen years after Lara Croft raided her last tomb on the big screen, a reboot of the successful Tomb Raider video game series has gained a new following among gamers, prompting a cinematic reboot too. Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander inherits the mantle of Lara Croft from Angelina Jolie, and hopes to re-energise what has always been a somewhat underwhelming film franchise.
Better known for traditionally dramatic roles, the 28-year-old Swedish actress who starred in The Danish Girl and 2015’s Ex Machina acquits herself well. Flashing a chiselled six-pack, she quickly establishes Croft as a proficient cyclist, kick-boxer, archer and, when the circumstances demand it, cold-blooded killer.
Vikander’s character is first introduced working as a cash-strapped courier in London, refusing to accept her vast inheritance, as it would mean acknowledging that her missing father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), was dead. Instead she follows in his final footsteps, and heads East in search of the tomb of Himiko, an ancient Japanese death queen.
After a shaky opening act cluttered with pompous British character actors such as Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi, things pick up when the action moves to Asia. As in the second Jolie film, 2003’s Cradle of Life, the Tomb Raider franchise again finds itself in Hong Kong, where Croft enlists the services of Daniel Wu’s sozzled sailor, following a nifty foot chase across the boats in Aberdeen harbour.
From there they head to a remote Japanese island, where a shady organisation called Trinity is also searching for Himiko, led by the murderous Vogel (Walton Goggins).
Norwegian director Roar Uthaug ( The Wave ) makes the most of his locations, but the action is edited to ribbons, and an over-reliance on CG augmentation starves the more ambitious set pieces of any sense of threat or physicality.
The plot of the film may owe a sizeable debt to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the dialogue is often clunky and the characters’ motivations are far from clear, but Vikander does enough to establish herself in the role, and should have ensured we see her in at least one more adventure.
Tomb Raider opens on March 8
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