Video games don’t have a great history of translating to the big screen. Conceived, historically, as a single-person active experience, it loses something by trying to make it a passive experience for a mass audience. The original two Tomb Raiders eschewed story for action and treated the titular and iconic Lara Croft character as an homage rather than a transfer of the same character to a different medium. This Tomb Raider, while still maintaining the action scenes of the first movie, finds inspiration from the more grounded video game reboot of 2013.
Alicia Vikander steps into Lara Croft’s boots and tank tops and does an admirable job of making the character feel real. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug has masterfully recreated the look and feel of the game from the shaky ladders, abandoned planes, and ancient stone puzzles that fill out the universe. But where Tomb Raider falters is with its story and its inability to have any faith in the audience. The most egregious example of this is the way it flashes back to a scene just seconds after it played. That Croft really only raids one tomb is more of a bummer than anything.
There are plenty of flashbacks to establish Lara’s daddy issues, and it’s the search for her father (Dominec West) that takes her to Asia in search of him. There, she runs afoul of Mathias (Walton Goggins) a crazed colonizer searching for the same ancient artifacts that Lara’s father died trying to find. There’s a reluctant team-up, ostensibly to make a single-player experience involve more people. There’s little in the way of plot complications, and to say everything plays out as expected might be a little unfair given it’s one of the few games I devoted hours to finishing.
Really, the whole movie is spent world building and the idea of a sequel and those characters that might be involved is more interesting than anything that actually happened here. It’s unfortunate because if there was a little more effort put into this film, it might stand a better chance of getting a sequel. But there are too many unnecessary chase sequences that do nothing but fill time and too little time spent on anything that might deepen the story.
Points for Kristin Scott-Thomas making her few brief moments a highlight. And for finding creative ways to highlight that pick-axe. But really, this is kind of a snooze.
My Grade – C-