Adrian Askarieh has stated that there could potentially be a video game based cinematic universe including titles such as “Tomb Raider” and “Hitman” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures).
It would have been impossible even a month ago to imagine that a movie based on video game would be one of the better straight up action flicks to be released in recent years, but lo and behold the refreshing and fun “Tomb Raider.”
After coming across clues that could help explain the disappearance of her father, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) gets swept up into a dangerous adventure when she washes ashore an island where a mercenary named Vogel (Walton Goggins) is searching for the artifact her father disappeared searching for.
“Tomb Raider” is an action film akin to adventure serials like the “Indiana Jones” movies or to the action movies of the 80s that starred action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, but “Tomb Raider” manages to be a refreshing take on all of those movies by going a different route with it. “Tomb Raider” is essentially Lara Croft’s original story as an action hero, and it works well like that.
Lara Croft is not just a good action hero, but she is a well-developed character as well. The origin story helps to give her motivation and character traits in an organic way, and she is ultimately a character that the audience would want to root for because they like her, not just because the plot makes it so they have to. It also gives her more humanity than some other action characters do, as the audience gets to witness things like her first kill and how it affects her.
A big part of Croft’s success as a character is Vikander’s performance. It seemed weird that an actress who had won an Academy Award a few years back would be appearing in a movie based on a video game, which almost always fail, but Vikander brings her talent out in full force. Vikander is a strong dramatic actor, so she does a good job in the movie’s emotional scenes, but she also has the charisma and on-screen likability to be an action star.
Every good action hero needs a good nemesis, and “Tomb Raider” delivers on that, too. Vogel is not just some generic bad guy who wants to do bad guy things because the plot requires him to. He is a fleshed-out villain with a clear motivation and good reasons for the audience to understand why he is the bad guy, and he feels like the perfect starting villain for an action hero to first come up against.
While the characters of Croft and Vogel are indeed strong, there are a few times where the movie accidentally undercuts them. For example, Croft sells a present her father gave her for money to search for him. It should be a hard action for the character and an emotional scene for the audience, but the action makes no sense because Croft has access to her father’s entire fortune that she could use. Then there is a scene where Vogel executes a man as a showing of his evilness, but this type of evil action does not fit with Vogel’s established characteristics.
While these two scenes might seem like minor issues, they are emblematic of a weakness with the movie’s story telling that sometimes comes up. For example, story exposition is given multiple times, the most obvious example being Croft’s father’s (Dominic West) narration at the beginning of the movie is literally repeated 15 minutes later so that Croft knows what is going on. There are also a series of flashbacks of Croft and her father to help explain Croft’s character, and when these scenes happen and are used to set up character actions or plot details it is pretty obvious and dumb. For example, there is a flashback where Croft is learning to shoot a bow and arrow when she is a teenager simply so it will explain how she knows how to use one when she is on the island.
Other than how silly the set up for the bow and arrow are, everything else dealing with the action in the movie is good. There is a wide variety of action scenes including gun fights, booby traps that the characters must face and an entire scene where Croft is on a dilapidated airplane hanging over a waterfall that is reminiscent of the trailer scene in “The Lost World,” which just might be the best scene in the movie. Along with the variety of action scenes, the movie handles the action in a way where it constantly feels like Croft could be in danger and has different ways of executing it. One action scene even looks and feels like a stealth mission that would exist in a video game.
There is a weakness to the story, but based on the main heroine and the action scenes “Tomb Raider” is ultimately a fun action film that has the potential to either create a fun action franchise or give Vikander a chance to be an action star.
Final Grade: B