You had me at barely-escaping-death jumps and Nick Frost cutting deals as arms dealer.
Alicia Vikander stars as Lara Croft in 2018’s Tomb Raider directed by Roar Uthaug and it is not a coinsidence his name can also be described as animalistic cry of survival. When Lara is about to sign papers that would officiate her father’s death, she gets a clue as to whether he might still be alive. Drunk on newly found enthusiasm, she leaves behind her bike courier days and sets off to follow Richard Croft’s (Dominic West) trail. That is how she ends up on the island Yamatai, hunting the legend of Himiko, the Queen of death.
To anyone who has played the games but also to the discouraged people who have watched Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider: this movie is better. So much better. You won’t find Lara seductively twirling around while looking irresistably and unrealistically beautiful. This Lara is basically a human punching bag and her not breaking every bone in her body is pretty astonishing. Forget the times of stiff dialogue and cringeworthy close ups. Uthaug delivers an action-heavy, fast-paced spectacle that will make you fall in love with Alicia Vikander even more.
As was teased in the trailer, you can’t miss out on the stunning action pieces from the 2013 video game (on which most of the storyline is based) like climbing an aircraft wreck on the edge of a waterfall or escaping a sinking ship. Amidst all of this real pretty action is Lara who, somewhat accidentally, finds herself in constant fear for her survival and gives everything to escape death. And yes, you have the moaning and the screaming but none of it feels uncomfortable or inappropriate. Vikander realistically portrays the sheer desperation and resiliance of her character while her opponents get their asses handed to them over and over.
Mathias Vogel (Walten Goggins) is the villain in this scenario, working for Trinity and trying to use Lara and her knowledge. His motivation comes from wanting to see his family again after being stuck on Yamatai for years, which makes him partially relatable. Goggins nails the uncomfortable creepiness of a guy who mentions about 3x in this movie that he has no one to talk to. On Lara’s side is the reckless captain with a drinking problem, Lu Ren (Daniel Wu). Their dynamic is a classic adventurer-loyalty, bottom-kicking brotherhood.
Besides this movie being a statement as a whole (female-led action flicks, please!), it does include some subtle social commentary that is smartly placed and in no way distracting. What rounds it off and makes it stick together is the Nick Frost sandwich. His character brings humor and charm in a very effective manner. What I thought was misleading in the trailer, fits perfectly into the whole picture.
Tomb Raider honors the video game legacy of Lara Croft, disregards previous failed attempts, and succeeds as highly entertaining and engaging action movie with a top-notch performance by Alicia Vikander. They just escaped the video game adaptation curse! More please!