Lara Croft has been with us in video game format since 1996 and last hit the big screen in 2003’s The Cradle Of Life. Fifteen years on and we have a very Scandinavian reboot of the hit franchise with Norwegian Roar Uthaug on directing duty and Oscar winning Swede Alicia Vikander as the slightly more conservatively dressed hero.
Thrill seeking, adrenaline junkie Lara coasts through life haunted by images of a father presumed dead by all but her. Heir to the Croft fortune she refuses to admit his demise and subsequently accept her inheritance until she’s left with no choice but to do so. But before she can a series of cryptic clues left by her father leads her on a quest to uncover the truth about his disappearance and his mysterious research into something, or someone, called Himiko and the clandestine TRINITY group.
Starting in Hong Kong Lara teams up with sailor Lu Ren who himself has his own mysteries to solve. Attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of The Devil’s Sea the pair find themselves in a race to save mankind from destruction on an island where all is not as it seems.
Tomb Raider is an exciting adventure with excellent set-pieces let down by a disappointing script and underdeveloped supporting characters. A frenetic bicycle chase through London, a storm at sea and a tense underwater sequence involving a waterfall and an old crashed plane, which is pretty much raided from Jurassic Park 2, all impress as does Alicia Vikander as Lara. She’s instantly likeable and handles the action scenes with ease, whilst bringing warmth and humanity to Lara’s troubled soul in her search for answers.
Walton Goggins is suitably nasty as the token villain. Slightly unhinged by his several years on a remote island he’s as ruthless as they come in his pursuit of a prize that will ultimately take him home to his family. Dominic West doesn’t have a great deal to do as Lara’s dad and it’s always nice to see Derek Jacobi and Kristin Scott Thomas even if they too have little to do.
Surprisingly violent in places, Tomb Raider fully warrants its 12A certificate. Cold blooded murder, a quite brutal drowning scene and booby traps to make grown men wince should all make you think twice about taking your young children to watch this rather grown-up film. Fans of Indiana Jones will recognise many a doff of the fedora from director Uthaug to the original archaeological adventurer. Riddles, melting faces and gaping chasms are all referenced with brazenness, but a clear affection.
Lara’s gravity defying Carl Lewis-esque long-jumping heroics and the script issues aside, Tomb Raider breathes new life into this franchise and leaves it in an excellent positon to move forward and I look forward to the next adventure.