Action-packed that will have you on the edge of your seat from virtually beginning to end, Tomb Raider, staring Alicia Vikander as action-adventure hero, Lara Croft, based on the popular rebooted video game of the same name released in 2013, is in essence a reboot of the film series as well. Which is far different from the original 2001 film starring legendary American actress, Angelina Jolie.
More of an origins story, the film, which is set in London rather than Egypt, like the Jolie-original, starts out with Lord Richard Croft telling his journal (and us) that he must leave his beloved daughter (his Sprout) in order to keep a nefarious agency from finding and weaponizing a demonic queen entombed in a mountain on an island off the coast of Japan. That quickly transitions to his daughter (Lara) seven years later getting beat up in a boxing-styled-wrestling ring by a bigger more stronger opponent. Lara dragging herself off the canvas, we learn that she hasn’t paid her club dues and is poor. Living a reckless and carefree life as a bike messenger, who will also take any kind of petty job she can to make any type of money she can, she lives with such a reckless and carefree abandonment that shows she’s her own person, who’s own ridiculous insistence of living by her own wits and on her own merits can do well on her own. Though we later not soon after find out that it’s her own stubbornness and refusel to accept that her father, Lord Richard Croft, who has been missing for nearly 7 years is dead, that she could easily inherent her father’s riches, but wouldn’t because she not only doesn’t want to accept he’s dead, but show she’s her own person and can do well on her own without his or anybody else’s help. While also inadvertently trying to discover her own true identity.
As much as she tries to deny and avoid it though, Lara is rich and a Croft. The Croft’s holding many holdings and a neglectedly vast manor on the outskirts of London. It’s in this time after being arrested from an accident of a very well-edited bike chase involving a police car, that Richard’s business partner, Ana Miller posts her bail and warns her that if she doesn’t accept her father’s inheritance, his estate will be sold off. To which Lara reluctantly comes into accept, but before she signs anything she is given a puzzle she’s to inherent that holds a picture of her with her father as a young girl and in it, a key to her father’s office in the manor. Going into his office she finds a pre-recorded message from her father detailing his research into Himiko, a mythical Queen of Yamatai, who is said to have the power to command life over death. After finding out and investigating more about the mythical powers of Himiko, instead of destroying all of her father’s research like Richard warned her to, she decides to keep them and travel to Hong Kong.
In essence becoming an archeologists explorer just like her father, Lara seeks out Lu Ren, who’s the captain of the ship, Endurance and she bribes to sail her to the mostly deserted island that was once believed to be Yamatai and where Himiko supposedly still lay. In the process also finding out that Lu is the son of Lu, who took Richard to the island, before he was also killed. On their way to the island both Lara and Ren are caught in a huge storm before Lara is washed up to the island, were knocked unconscious she is revived by Mathias Vogel. A leader of an expedition on the island to locate Himiko’s tomb, which is funded by a shady organization called, Trinity that seeks to harness and weaponise Himiko’s power.
Lara is held captive by Vogel, who claims to have killed her father and intend to use Lord Croft’s research, which Lara still had to find the island, to continue his expedition. With the help of Lu Ren, who she discovers is still alive and helping the local fishermen that Vogel also has held captive to dig up Himiko’s tomb she escapes and avoids capture. It’s in this sequence where a lot of the action-packed cliffhangers that are so wittily connected together that will have you on the edge of your seat trying to keep up, truly start to begin and in the process really playing off like an actual big screen adaptation of the very action-packed video game it’s loosely based off of.
The sequence of Lara avoiding capture and falling off a cliff into rushing water and hurtling towards a waterfall in which point she manages to get onto a rusted, rotting little plane perched on the brink that’s on the verge of falling and she has to do several somersaults onto a wing. Falling one by one, before she’s forced into the cockpit and promptly begins to slide into the falls, as she desperately tries to saw her hands free and asks, “Really?” Lara then whizzes through the air after finding a life jacket before slowly tumbling down to land where she finds a long piece of metal just west of her naval that she has to slowly pull out. Exhausted from her being seriously injured and passing out from her injuries, she later that night regains consciousness to discover a mysterious figure, that’s her still alive father, after she fights and kills a Trinity guard, who was set out to find her. Lara then convincing her father that she’s real and having him help her treat her injuries, defies her father to recover his research from Vogel’s camp. This sequence that sets up the fierce climax to come, really showing how brilliantly intertwined and wittily connected much of the storyline truly is.
Like most good movies there was plenty of good plot and character development with some pretty well done acting and even some pretty great supporting cast as well. Especially Dominic West as Richard Croft, who had such a great and seamlessly fluent chemistry with Vikander, that will even have you tear up at least once at one of the more emotionally touching scenes. But make no mistake, it’s Vikander, who had some pretty big shoes to fill in replacing Jolie as Lara Croft and did a really surprisingly great job, who really carried the movie at times. Making her own, new, Lara Croft, that doesn’t at all aim to be Jolie’s Tomb Raider, Vikander did quite a stellar and amazing job that showed she’s one tough woman, who’s also a very powerful and capable heroine, who can pack her own punch.
Action-packed fun from beginning to end, this is a must-see movie that you have to really see in IMAX (like I did for one of the more later advanced screenings of the movie on Wednesday) to truly get the full experience of all the in your face heart-pounding action that will have you on the edge of your seat and immersed in every minute of the film that takes you on an adventure, like you were almost actually in it or playing the game. With one of the only real complaints I have about the film being that she doesn’t use her bow and arrow as much and some of the storytelling could’ve been slightly better, it’s still a very good movie, that also had plenty of subtle hints at a possible sequel as well. Focusing more than anything on making a good movie first, it definitely developed into a good enough movie to warrant, if not multiple movies, at the very least a sequel and Vikander really doing an amazingly great job at portraying Lara’s bravery at a time when women really need brave faces to look to as inspiration. This movie really couldn’t have come at a better time.