Imagine a film where the lead is an adventurous, tough as nails types who also has happens to have father issues. But the father is the key to unlocking a potential treasure that could change the world, and through his notes, our hero is whisked away on an adventure that is full of deadly temples, a lot of bad guys, and action! If that sounds vaguely familiar to you, you’ve probably seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well, and from what can be seen in Tomb Raider – – the new reboot film based on the incredibly popular Tomb Raider franchise – – so have the people behind the film. In fact, they like the movie so much that Tomb Raider feels like the diet Coke take on The Last Crusade, with nothing really new to say or add to the genre. Instead, it just feels like a paint by numbers take on a well worn genre that so badly wants to be fun an exciting, but instead becomes cliche and tired.
Director Roar Uthaug, along with his writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, clearly have love for the Tomb Raider video game franchise, but unfortunately that love doesn’t translate to a very good film. Instead, the script feels like it has been pieced together from other better movies and films, so every beat feels too familiar, leaving nothing new or exciting for the audience to latch onto. It’s frustrating, because this is a franchise that could rival some of the best adventure films, but instead it tries to be them, and it ends up creating a film with no identity for itself.
Alicia Vikander tries as hard as she can to bring this new iteration of Lara Croft to life, and while the film doesn’t really support her, she still manages to give a good performance. She’s likable, fun, and really embodies this younger take on Lara than we’re used to. By taking the film in an origin direction, it gives her a chance to try and craft her own take on Croft while also being familiar to what the audience knows, and for the most part, it succeeds. However, as good as Vikander is, she alone can’t carry the film, and unfortunately her supporting cast isn’t that remarkable. Both Walton Goggins and Dominic West try hard in their supporting roles, but the problem is, both characters really don’t amount to much in the end. Goggins is the stereotypical bad guy you expect from these movies who does bad things just to be bad, while West plays Croft’s father, who is supposed to represent what she should become. The problem is, the script doesn’t do anything in particular with either character to make you care, and it’s frustrating when they should be two sides of the coin that Lara could fall into.
Therein in lies the problem with the new Tomb Raider film, as it simply just exists to exist, wasting what could really become a great film franchise. But in the legacy of prequel stories we probably didn’t need, this one is near the top, and also plays into why the film misses the mark. Lara Croft doesn’t really need an origin story, because that’s not what makes her interesting. What makes the character interesting is when we first met her in the games, and she was a kick ass female Indiana Jones in nature character, and we didn’t need to know how she became this way. She existed as she was, and we accepted that. There’s nothing of interest in Lara’s history that we needed to see. It would have been much more interesting if they had just made a brand new adventure with no origin, but the way of the current studio system dictates origin films must exist, so here we are.
It’s frustrating when a property like Tomb Raider shows so much promise as a film, only to fall apart and not reach its potential. The action is fine, and kinda fun throughout, but the movie never amounts to more than that. Even the traps in the temple seem familiar, many of which feel lifted from other films, which adds to the fact that this movie doesn’t really seem to have any real identity for itself. Everything about it feels forced in a way that it shouldn’t, and really just overall wastes the Tomb Raider name.
Tomb Raider should have been the next big action blockbuster franchise. It’s got a wonderful lead in Alicia Vikander and a great source to pull from, but instead, the movie shows up pretty lifeless instead. There’s moments of fun to be had, but even those moments come from other movies, giving Tomb Raider no life of its own. It’s just frustrating that the film wastes the potential of what this franchise could be, and instead wants it to be like everything else. Instead of being unique as it should be, it’s every other adventure film you’ve ever seen, and both Vikander and the character Lara Croft deserve better.