From Super Mario Bros to Warcraft, movie adaptations of video games have been notoriously tricky to pull off. The original 2001 and 2003 movies based on the Tomb Raider games, starring Angelina Jolie as shorts-and-push-up-top wearing adventuress Lara Croft, were silly rather than exciting, but would a reboot more than a decade later be any better?
The short answer is yes… and no.
Following on from updates to the classic game itself, such as giving Lara (Vikander) something more substantial to run around in than just hot pants, the movie follows suit and ditches the gratuitous cleavage and legs in favour of a sensible pair of cargo trousers and a vest that gets as grubby as Bruce Willis’s in Die Hard as our heroine dashes across an uncharted island.
After some back story that sets Lara up as a rather pouty twenty-something who would rather scrape money together as a bike courier than declare her missing father (West) dead and claim her inheritance, the movie swiftly shifts into adventure gear, too, as Lara discovers that all those business trips her dad took were actually a cover for his own expeditions into the unknown. After cracking some puzzles he left behind – including a neat reveal of his secret room – Lara realises he disappeared trying to stop a fabled tomb hidden on a Japanese island from being opened. Apparently an ancient queen is trapped there and releasing her would be Very Bad.
Of course, Lara decides to visit the last place her dad was seen, and so begins her real adventure. Puzzles are unlocked, there’s an impressive shipwreck and it turns out the island isn’t entirely uninhabited as it’s full of captive workers and bad guys toting guns who are led by Goggins’ Vogel. And yes, he’s there to find and open the tomb.
Once the role doesn’t require her to be moody about her abandonment by daddy anymore, Vikander is an enjoyable Croft, handling the action sequences with aplomb, whether it’s balancing on a rusting plane above a waterfall or climbing a cliff face. There’s nice support from Wu, too, as the boat captain who helps her, but the rest of the cast get little to do.
West has to spout some dire dialogue in a voiceover and flashbacks (him referring to himself in the third person: “Daddy loves you” is particularly grating), baddie Goggins is given little to do, and the only other woman in the movie besides Vikander, Scott Thomas’s guardian Anna, is sidelined for most of the film.
In the end, it’s an enjoyable, if somewhat forgettable, romp that owes a lot to the Indiana Jones movies but sadly lacks the wit or excitement of them. With a punchier, funnier script and better adventures, Vikander’s Lara Croft could be a really terrifc hero, so here’s hoping she gets the movie she deserves if there is ever a Tomb Raider sequel.
Is Tomb Raider suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
This action adventure movie is a 12A certificate in the UK due to some fighting and chase sequences, but there is nothing here that should frighten the over-10s.
Those with delicate stomachs may want to look away when Lara is injured and has to be stitched up as it looks quite realistic.
Characters are shot and there are signs of pain and bleeding. There are physical fights between men and women, and one character is seen to be held down and drowned.
Young children (under the age of 10) may find the ship in a storm sequence quite intense.
Towards the end of the movie, characters become infected with a disease that causes their skin/veins to blacken which may upset younger viewers.
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