Though he has been missing for seven years, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) refuses to admit that her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), is dead. This also means that she cannot collect her inheritance, leaving her as a bike courier to make ends meet. When she finally concedes to signing the papers declaring him dead, part of her inheritance is a puzzle box.
After solving her father’s riddles, Lara discovers that Richard had been searching for the remains of an ancient, mystical goddess Himiko. According to legend, Himiko was an angel of death. Whoever found her remains would have access to this power. Ignoring Richard’s request to destroy his research, Lara uses her father’s notebooks to find the uninhabited island where Himiko is thought to be, and where her father died.
Once Lara arrives at the island, she finds that Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) is already there with a team of mercenaries. Vogel has a work force of consisting of captured fishermen and other sailors who had been shipwrecked on the island. Lara must find a way to stop Vogel before he can find Himiko and save the world, while hopefully finding some answers about her father.
Hoping to cash in on the recent wave of reboots, Tomb Raider reprises the role Angelina Jolie played 17 years ago, trying to update it for a new generation.
Alicia Vikander is a great replacement for Jolie as Lara Croft. She has enough talent to lead an action movie and she can kick some serious ass. She lacks a bit of Jolie’s on-screen charm, but Jolie had the advantage of a campier version of the story. Walton Goggins plays up the classic, cheesy villain role perfectly. He is just over the top enough to make Vogel fit the stereotype and then some. Dominic West, on the other hand, goes just a little too far, making his character a little too wacky. Nick Frost is thrown in as a little comic relief, and he doesn’t disappoint.
The movie is part The Da Vinci Code, part Raiders of the Lost Ark, and part every action-adventure movie from the 80s and 90s. They roll out every old-school movie cliché they could think of. Ancient mythical gods. A perfectly timed storm causing a shipwreck on a remote island. Waterfalls. Worldwide crime circuits led by a mysterious character. Villains dramatically tearing open a secret notebook with the clue they need. Conveniently jamming guns. One liners. Villains monologuing. Even the score of the film is precisely 90’s action film. This is exactly why the movie works as well as it does. It hearkens back to the heyday of the genre. It fits perfectly well with the tone and feel of the original film. However, these same things are exactly what holds the movie back a little. Instead of using these clichés to make the film a cheesy, pseudo-parody of the genre, the film takes itself a little too seriously. The result is a film that doesn’t quite hit as well as it could.
Not forgetting its roots, Tomb Raider often looks like you are watching a video game. I mean this as a compliment, in that it gives the film a unique feel that gives it a little authenticity. If you set your expectations accordingly, it is a fun film you can just sit back and enjoy. I’d recommend seeing it in the theater, as that is how action-adventure movies deserve to be seen. I’m hoping they can find their footing a little better when it comes to the sequel.