Tomb Raider Movie Review
Tomb Raider Movie Review Metadata
Tomb Raider is based on the popular video game with artifact hunter and adrenaline junkie, Lara Croft. If you’ve come for romance or sap or pretty girls in dresses, this isn’t your movie.
There’s an actual story here, not just inserted game elements that make you feel as if you’re watching a walk-through on a sophisticated AI setting. Seven years after the disappearance of philanthropist and archeologist Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), his only daughter Lara (Alicia Vikander) remains in denial. Declaring him dead makes it far too real for her, so she barely exists as a bike courier and finds new and exciting ways to feed her adrenaline addiction. On the cusp of needing to finalize the things she’s been avoiding, she takes off on a final adventure to uncover the secret of her father’s disappearance, and ultimately reclaim what she’s been missing.
She joins Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) whose father went missing at the same time, and together they make the journey to the fabled island of Yamatai, where the Death Goddess Himeko is believed to be buried alive. Like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Tomb Raider mixes mythology with modern corporate greed. Lord Croft wanted to reach Yamatai and Himeko before powerful shadow organization Trinity gains control of what could be a weapon that could wipe out the world. Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), tasked by Trinity to find Himeko and he can’t leave until he does. Lara’s sudden appearance with her father’s diary is all he needs to complete his own 7-year mission and return home. We all know that can’t happen because END OF THE WORLD.
Lofty – well, yeah!
Lara Croft is no wilting violet, and she’s put through as much if not more crazy challenges as any high-stakes dude-led flick. Unlike movies like the recent Death Wish (2018) she’s no cultured professional who suddenly becomes a marksman vigilante. She’s a budding MMA fighter, she has quick reflexes, she knows how to take and throw a punch. She’s never vulnerable to the point of giving up. Her constant curiosity drives her to abandon what we might consider common sense to find answers. There is no man she can run to for comfort, no safe space.
And she’s smart. There are puzzles, word games, and actual logic. This is what we expect from our adventure movies. We need elements that aren’t so smart we can’t figure them out, but situations we’d never find ourselves in. This is escapism and it’s fun. We have chase scenes, on bike and on foot and even down treacherous rivers, and more than once I found myself gripping my seat. You’re along for the ride, even if you worry about sepsis and tetanus and how awful it must be to feel grimy all of the time. Which is what makes this fun. Adventurers don’t care about sweat and cuts and dirt because ADVENTURE!
I’m breathless just thinking about it.
There’s likely a lot of fan service because this is after-all based on the wildly popular video game series, and it could be considered a prequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), but there’s also an engaging story here. We get to know Lara and her motivations which makes us more vested in the story. It reminds me strongly of the Indiana Jones movies, and that’s why I liked it. Smart, funny, and thrilling. People who find the story boring are the same kind of people who tend to complain about mindless mayhem movies lacking a plot. You can’t please everyone. I’m not a gamer and went to see a movie, not watch someone play a video game. I believe Tomb Raider finds that happy middle of story and adventure that should satisfy all thrill seekers.
I really hope there’s a sequel.
Tomb Raider (2018) is rated PG-13 for swears, perilous adventure, people getting shot, people getting beat up, potential tetanus, and gross necrosis. It will also be shown in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D.