The audience for the latest version of Tomb Raider is divided into two primary categories. The first category comprises of people who think this to be an unnecessary reboot and have already started going to lengths to ridicule this film and dismiss it completely. The second category is of people who loved the 2013 game and are interested to see how the iconic imagery, story, and feel of the game gets transposed to the big screen. These people are also very apprehensive about another video game movie as almost every other video game adaptation has failed miserably to impress them. Apart from these two categories, there is an almost negligible category of men like me who have not played the game, who do not hate video game adaptations and who are just interested to see how this film works out as a standalone film.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is living without a father sulking at the fact that he left her n her own. She is also not willing to take control of her father’s vast empire and decides to be a delivery girl instead. When she is finally duped into coming over and signing for her assets, she lands up with a series of clues that her father left her leading her to his inner sanctums. Here she learns about her father’s hidden exploits. She uncovers some clues which she believes will lead her to her father’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, she becomes an accessory to a series of events that could unleash a global catastrophe swirling out of the legend of Himiko. Lara must now use her intellect, physical prowess and everything else at her disposal to undo what she has done wrong.
This isn’t a film for people of the first category. If you don’t like video game adaptations then you don’t even need to try this because no matter what, you will ridicule it. For all the rest, Tomb Raider is a surprisingly satisfying adventure. A film like this had to make us care for the character, instill a hook that would generate enough curiosity, have enough action, look good and end with a bang. Tomb Raider gets all the points ticked with aplomb. Alicia Vikander is a terrific actress (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl). What we didn’t know was whether she had the kind of physicality required to pull off an almost super-human Lara Croft. Well, now we know that she does.
Vikander sways through the forest, jumps through cliffs, Fisty-cuffs baddies twice her size and outruns her foes with élan. After a long time, a girl of her stature has looked this good and this comfortable in an action role. I never for a second dis-believed her of doing what she was shown doing. The initial bike race puts the character in the right perspective physically. As the film progresses, the action gets more and more grueling and serious. By the time we reach the climax, she has already evolved into a superhero. One that we believe in. Apart from that, Vikander is naturally in harmony with scenes that demanded her dramatic prowess. She does extremely well in her scenes with her father, played by Dominic West. Their mutual ease renders their chemistry loveable and accessible to the audience. This also adds depth to the plot and gives the film a much needed emotional core as a lot of it otherwise is just good looking action.
The plot of the film, though very generic, just has enough to add a hook in the audience. We are interested to see if the legend of Himiko (a God of Death and destruction) is actually true or not. The film maintains the surprise right until the end. The primary antagonist of the film, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) doesn’t believe in the legend of Himiko. But Croft’s father was certain of her existence. Thus this wear and tear between their beliefs keep us confused and interested.
Tomb Raider is a gorgeous looking film. I loved the rugged feel of it in comparison to the nearly pristine look of its predecessors. I feel this sort of a look helped the film to be more believable and better conveyed the struggle of Lara for whom this was her first mission. The editing is lucid and flows beautifully. I loved the way they shot and edited the bike race, at the beginning, the shipwreck sequence, and the final climax. The background score is really good. I can easily imagine myself listening to it over and over again.
Having said all that, the film still doesn’t add anything new or revolutionary to the genre. We have reached a point from where “just good” is no longer good enough. We have to be enthralled. We have to be swept off our feet. That is not the case here and incidentally, that is also the biggest issue with this film. It does everything right within its limitations but its limitations are very limited. Suffice is to say that when they decided to remake Tomb Raider, and roped in someone of Vikander’s acting prowess, they should have done a lot more with the plot, the screenplay and added some more meat to the action. It is still a very competitive film but fails to be extraordinary.
Rating : 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)