Tomb Raider

TOMB RAIDER. Starring: Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Directed by Roar Uthaug. Rated M (Action violence and sense of peril). 118 min.

This American action-adventure drama is based primarily on the video game of the same name, and it continues the “Tomb Raider” film series that began with the film of the same name in 2001, starring  Angelina Jolie. It was Jolie who continued the series with “Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” (2003). The two preceding movies had a different Director and acting cast, and this film has little connection with the detailed plot of either of the previous movies.

This “Tomb Raider” film stars Alicia Vikander, the Swedish actress who won an Academy Award for her supporting role in the “Danish Girl” (2015). Vikander continues the character of Lara Croft, who was the heroine of the original 1996 video games, and the two previous film versions.

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the independent daughter of a wealthy, eccentric adventurer, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who vanished from her life when she was a teenager. Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas) is guardian of her father’s company, Croft Holdings.

As a young woman, Lara lacks purpose in life, and is deeply resentful of her father’s disappearance. She refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire, when given an opportunity to do so, and she emotionally rejects the notion that her father is truly gone. After restless wandering in the back streets of East London, barely making ends meet, and failing to attend to her responsibilities, Lara, with a little bit of help from a video she finds, makes a decision to travel to the last known destination of her father to unravel the mystery that lies behind his disappearance. The answer lies in the secrets of a tomb being excavated on a deserted rugged island somewhere off the coast of Japan by her father’s old enemy, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). Matthias is associated with a shadowy organisation in London by the name of Trinity, and Trinity is seeking global control. Lara knows that she is not respecting her father’s wishes by going to the island, and she hires Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), a friendly ship’s captain who knew her father, to take her there.

The island lies in the middle of the Devil’s sea, and secrets are hidden away in the tomb on it, called “The Mother of Death”. Matthias has spent seven years excavating trying to find the tomb, and he needs the skills of Lara Croft to get access to it. Frustrated by the time he has spent looking for the entrance to the tomb, the coffin deep inside it hides a deadly toxic virus which will mean the end of mankind if it is released, and give control to Trinity. Lara’s mission, promised to her father, is to stop Trinity, and make sure the “Mother of Death” tomb stays closed forever.

The film presents Lara Croft as a strong, assertive and competent female figure who knows, and understands, human weakness. The character of Lara Croft has developed over time. No longer is she a female hero in a male-dominated world, as she was early in the series. She now lives and breathes the expectations of equality between the sexes, and is a survivor, who has learnt how to face and conquer the forces that are constantly being thrown her way. Vikander’s performance is reminiscent of the heroine of “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot (in her role as Diana Prince), in which Wonder Woman’s strength triumphs over vulnerability, so reinforcing viewers’ natural identification with a heroine, who nobly conquers human failings.

This is an energetic action-adventure film with impressive special effects that projects Alicia Vikander as a modern heroine. While on the island, she jumps, runs and swings dangerously from one crisis scenario to the next - a little like what might happen in a fast-paced, video-computer game - and she handles the live action challenges thrown her way completely naturally.

The likely success of this film will breed multiple sequels, and Vikander brings the original 1996 game heroine back to the cinema screen with natural-looking style. But Lara knows there are jobs yet to do, and with her father dead, Lara Croft is clearly headed in other ways “to save the world”.

Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

Warner Bros. Studios

Released March 15th., 2018

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