Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas
When they first announced back in 2011 that there would be a new Tomb Raider reboot on the horizon, I was skeptical. Then when it was pegged as a video game adaptation, I was even more. Historically speaking, video game adaptations have flopped – drastically. So you can understand, possibly even relate to, my hesitancy when I decided to go and watch the new take on Friday evening. Then imagine my surprise when not only did I enjoy it, but thought it was AWESOME!
We first meet Lara Croft as a bike courier in suburban Shoreditch, with an inclination for martial arts and extreme sports. Two polar opposite personalities that shouldn’t mix, but strangely enough do. Already seeming like more of a grittier interpretation than her predecessor, this film highlights the unbelievable amount of hard work and graft that Alicia Vikander put in to preparing for the role. Gone are the days of the busty video game heroines, with crop tops and the shortest shorts known to man. With an insane amount of high octane stunts and adrenline pumping moments throughout its 118 minutes, this film showcases Vikander’s pure physical prowess. Whether it’s being thrown down rip-roaring rapids, leaping for her life from the wing of a desolate plane or cracking the most complex of puzzles, there seems to be no end to Vikander’s talent.
Accompanying her on her adventure is Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), who when we first meet him is a raving drunk still haunted by the loss of his father. A circumstance that connects the two on a deeply personal level. Whilst he is the ‘sidekick’ to Lara’s ‘hero’, Lu has some standout moments in the film – in helping Lara to traverse vast and vicious waters, escape capture whilst sacrificing his own freedom, as well as vowing not to leave her behind. This film provided an introduction to a well-rounded character, whose deeper personality we are still to uncover, and hopefully will later down the line.
The one surprising element to this film was the father/daughter dynamic. Dominic West was a stellar choice for Richard Croft, the famed aristocrat with a rather eccentric hidden secret. His sudden disappearance when searching for the lost tomb of Himiko, the mythical Queen of Yamatai, fuels the entire premise of the film. Athough we didn’t get to see them onscreen together for the first hour, the chemistry between Vikander and West was so natural. The loss of her father really drove Lara’s ambition from the very off, and brought a heart to the feature that I wasn’t expecting it to have.
Leading the way for Team Bad Guy is Walton Goggins as the crazed archaeologist Mathias Vogel. Hired by the mysterious, secret organisation ‘Trinity’, Vogel has spent 7 years entrapped on the island trying to retrieve remains of Himiko, not seeming fazed by the curse that she is rumoured to cast should she be released. Goggins portrays a character who’s determination knows no bounds, and will go to extreme lengths to complete his employers’ bidding, and he plays it with such an evil fluidity that sometimes it’s hard to see where Goggins ends and Vogel begins.
Coming out of the film the thing I found most suprising about this version of Tomb Raider was how much it felt like watching a video game. I have yet to play any of the Square Enix games (blasphemous, I know), but at points I could almost imagine pressing the buttons of my PlayStation controller! It was almost as though I was watching one long, feature length cut-scene. With the anticipation of the adaptation of the Uncharted series hopefully sometime in 2018, this film gives me serious hope for the future of video game films.
Tomb Raider for me is by no means perfect, but it is an excellent base to build on. It introduces a new style Lara Croft, fiesty and fearless, that young girls and boys alike can look up to and strive to be like. It has the right balance of action/adventure and feeling that a film of this genre needs – and will hopefully continue to bolster this platform in any future sequels that may be yet to come (keeping fingers firmly crossed).
Tomb Raider is in cinemas now.