Film Review: Tomb Raider (2018)

I remember back when Angelina Jolie was Lara Croft (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – 2001), running around in ridiculous outfits, spouting off silly one-liners as responses to equally silly one-liners from her fellow actors.

It was a great idea, poorly executed, and something that we look back on now as being of its time, in the same slightly derogatory way that we think of Benny Hill or the like as being of its time.

So, we all had high hopes for a Tomb Raider in 2018. It was time for a new female hero, someone strong and resourceful, someone real and human, dressed sensibly and not salaciously, using strength and intellect to solve problems and defeat foes. Someone like Lagertha in The Vikings perhaps?

Did we get that? In large part I think we did.

Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft is a person in crisis, struggling with her own demons and trying to find her place in a world that doesn’t make sense to her. Her father is missing, presumed dead as those closest to her stress, but she won’t let go.

Motivated in the main by a desire to find out what happened to her father, and save him if she can, she eschews her inheritance in favour of a hand-to-mouth existence doing odd jobs.

This is a good example of where Tomb Raider falls down for me: the plot is thin, and really only a device to move us on to the next action set piece.

I wanted to understand Lara more, to find out more about her as a character, but we never really do, and without that there just isn’t the engagement with her character. Without that, the peril she is in doesn’t hurt us as much, so we don’t care as much as we could.

I enjoyed it overall, but it could have been a lot better. Alicia Vikander was great, while Dominic West as Lara’s father drew the short straw from the writing pool: his character was only briefly painted in.

I’m hoping the powers-that-be fund a sequel to give the writers a chance to paint Lara as a more rounded, credible character that we can care about a lot more than we do.

I give this film 6/10.