In 2001, arguably the only successful movie based on an actual video game came out. That was the first Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. I’ve never seen that movie, but I do know it was successful enough to get a sequel.
Well, now there’s a new Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander. How was it?
It was fine.
The movie plays it up as a Lara Croft Begins sort of origin story. Her father (Dominic West) disappeared seven years earlier and even though she can acquire vast wealth by signing a few papers, instead she works as a bike courier and lives life on the edge. She is not, however, a natural. She loses a kickboxing sparring session and gets arrested after a bike chase. She’s impulsive, talented, but she isn’t there…yet. A chance encounter with a clue to her father’s disappearance leads her to going halfway around the world to find a tomb where the mysterious Trinity organization’s agent Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) on a jungle island in the middle of a particularly treacherous stretch of ocean. Vogel is searching for a legendary tomb with something potentially supernatural and bad inside of it. Will Lara prevent him and his masters from getting ahold of it?
Here’s the thing: of the various video game adaptations, Lara Croft’s adventures seem to be something that can work cinematically. She’s like a cross between Batman and Indiana Jones. That can work. As far as this movie goes, it wasn’t bad or particularly good, fine for a rental or a discount theater show. Vikander is fine, but actors like West and Cooper essentially walk through their parts, while talented folks like Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, and Nick Frost are relegated to small roles, though Frost’s pawnshop owner appears in perhaps the two best scenes in the movie. I didn’t like or dislike this movie, though Vikander has better abs than I’ve seen on some male actors. It’s a fine origin story, and I may not object to a sequel, but I’m in no rush to see this one again. 7.5 out of 10 surprisingly handy drunken sailors.