The story of a half inebriated male crashing into his kitchen after a big night out rifling through the leftovers of a Sunday roast, devouring half a jar of pickled onions and anything else he can find regardless of its best before date was never going to make a great film. And so out Editor life story aka Fridge Raider was not to be. Tomb Raider on the other hand with its huge gamer fan base was a different matter altogether especially when a film version featuring a curvaceous Angelina Jolie in hot pants took the lead role as Lara Croft. Much like many game to film adaptations it met with the usually uproar from fans of the game many of whom had never seen or spoken to a real female before.
After the last Tomb Raider film made only $156m worldwide a reboot some years later was inevitable and here Lara has been recast with the far more boyish figure of Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) in the role. Unlike its previous incarnation of the character who enjoyed the luxury of her inherited wealth the new tomb raider has her working as a cycle courier and kick boxing hobbyist who seems less than proficient at the sport getting a right good kicking in the opening scene yet emerging bruise-less. It’s a scene that sets out from the start that Lara is no super hero but rather an independent girl rejecting the wealth she is owed from her father (Dominic West) who’s gone missing looking for the tomb of Himito, a woman of untold evil power who has been embedded in a tomb on unapproachable island. It’s comes as no surprise that if her power falls into the wrong hands then it will unleash all manner of horror on the world and they must get to it before others do and blah, blah, blah … …yes you’ve heard it all before. How many times has that ‘keeping an all conquering power from the baddies’ been used before in comic book storylines?
So Lara on the verge of penury reluctantly signs the contract to receive her father’s fortune from solicitor Derek Jacobi in another, ‘will act for money’ role and she inherits a toy puzzle which hides a key. It sets in motion her discovery of her dad’s the adventurer and ultimately her own quest for the tomb of Himito.
As a game Tomb Raider has all the makings for an action film with its combination of puzzles, action and kick ass heroine for adolescents to drool over and the appropriately named director Roar Uthaug has come up with a far grittier movie than Jolie’s with shootings galore and even Lara offing a baddie by drowning him in a ….um….. puddle. Vikander even has a few lines hinting at a couple of F-bombs .
There are some decent action sequences which almost catch the essence of the game but don’t quite capitalise on their potential – a courier bike race is good as dozens of cyclists pursue Lara through a gridlocked central London with all seemingly determined to increase the cyclist fatality list. But the sequences get better as the film goes one and there’s enough nods to the game to keep diehard fans happy notably a rusty plane on a waterfall which is particularly good wondering quite how Lara will avoid needing a tetanus jab as much as avoiding death.
This is as much an origin story though with Vikander seemingly having secured an agreement in her contract not to have to wear the shorts only the vest top of the character and the twin guns strapped to her thighs are nowhere to be seen instead preferring to career through the sets with a bow and arrow a la Rambo. The reference to other films is one of several and with the most obvious nod being to ‘Raiders of the lost Ark’ which acts almost like a template for Tomb Raider’s action especially towards the end but that’s no bad thing.
Dominic West is serviceable as her father and there some father daughter moments which are touching but he script leans too heavily on replaying lines from previous scenes between them as flashbacks as way of exposition. Walton Goggins plays the bad guy Mathias Vogel in run of the mill style and Derek Jacobi’s (‘Stratton‘) is matched only by the always affable presence of Nick Frost as a pawnbroker.
Inevitably the film sets ups a sequel with the pony tail and twin guns being introduced. Tomb Raider continues the struggle though to keep both the gamer fan base happy as well as those not familiar with her origins but this is a decent reboot nonetheless but the quest continues for the great game to film adaptation.
Here’s the trailer…….