by Charles Kirkland Jr.
The Mummy collides with Mission Impossible in the reboot of the video game franchise, Tomb Raider.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander), a bike messenger, appears to be someone special to all around her. She is strong, smart and very good-looking. Everyone likes her and knows that she really does not belong in the underbelly of the London streets they see her. Lara’s secret is that she is the daughter of missing and presumed dead adventurer Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) and heir to Croft Holdings, a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Lara has refused to accept her heritage because it means that she must officially declare her father dead but ultimately after her father’s many years of absence, she is prompted to make the decision to save the company and her home. At the moment of her ascension, Lara comes across a clue that she is certain will help her to determine the true fate of her father. She immediately, carelessly and recklessly sets off on a quest to find her dad.
Tomb Raider is directed by relative newcomer Roar Uthaug, a Norwegian director best known for his geological catastrophe flick, The Wave. Uthaug does well in moving the action along in the movie starting with an opening MMA style sparring scene and a bike race that seemed to be right out of the classic Kevin Bacon movie Quicksilver or the more recent Premium Rush. In fact, Uthaug’s gritty, shaky film style lends itself well to the action scenes. Unfortunately, the derivative action scenes themselves do not make this movie standout. In fact, every action scene is one that has been seen before in some other movie, if not the video game and attempts to distract viewers from the lack of story.
The story of Tomb Raider seems to pull very heavily from the most recent, tenth installment of the video game. Lara travels on the ship Endurance to the island of Yamati to explore the tomb of Japanese Queen Himiko. The major changes from game to movie are that Lara travels with Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) instead of the full expedition crew of the game and Himiko is changed from a “Sun” queen to a Queen of Death. Sadly, writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet (the upcoming Captain Marvel) and Alastair Siddons (Trespass Against Us) have adapted the storyline from the game to create an origin story that lacks story. Academy Award winner Vikander’s (The Danish Girl) acting talent has been terribly undermined here to create just another action star. Even the normally outstanding Walton Goggins (TV’s Justified, The Hateful Eight) is underdeveloped as the villain in this film.
Vikander is well developed an in phenomenal physical shape in the movie, trading her soft alluring sexiness for the slimmer, crisply-toned and possibly sexier hard body of an action star. Many of the criticisms of her body especially the raptor comparison controversy (check it on the internet) lose their grounds upon seeing Vikander in the movie. Vikander has bulked up for the movie and reportedly has done most of her own stunts in the film.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language, Tomb Raider, in the end, is a video game movie, one of the better ones, but still a video game movie. Director Uthaug shows promising work and seems to be at his best in displaying moments of aquatic peril which he does extremely well in a boat scene in this movie. However, he and the writers fail to make this movie transcend its video game borders and thus it remains more an excursion in familiarity where gamers will be trying to push the “X” button to move Lara along the screen.