DIRECTOR: Roar Uthaug LEAD CAST: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walten Goggins, Daniel Wu SCREENWRITER: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons PRODUCER: Graham King EDITOR: Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read, Michael Tronick MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Junkie XL GENRE: Action, Adventure, Fantasy CINEMATOGRAPHER: George Richmond DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. LOCATION: South Africa, England RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V13
MTRCB rating: PG
Defying the wishes of her father Lord Richard (Dominic West), Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) does not destroy his records tracing the location of Queen Himiko’s tomb in a remote island in Japan. The mythical queen is believed to have power over death and life, and Lord Richard in his journal claims the queen is his link to the other world where finally he can reunite with his wife, Lara’s mother who passed away. Lara uses the journal to track her father, gone missing for seven years and presumed dead. With Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), son of the boat owner who disappeared with Lara’s father, they sail to the island. A turbulent storm sinks their boat and they find themselves captive in the camp where Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) leads a sinister mission to retrieve Himiko’s remains on orders of a spurious organization. Getting hold of Lord Richard’s journal from Lara, Vogel’s mission becomes as good as accomplished. But Lara gets in the way, and she won’t stop till she finds her father.
You don’t need to know the video game nor the 2001 and 2003 movie series with Angelina Jolie to appreciate this latest release. The movie is about a father-daughter relationship, and Vikander (best actress for The Danish Girl) brings both vulnerability and daring to Lara’s abandoned daughter and conflicted heiress. But Dominic West’s Lord Richard and Goggin’s Vogel are awkward and feigned. The plot is thin and linear, and the movie resorts to a series of flashbacks to deepen the story, using them all too frequently that the story becomes contrived. But give it to Lara Croft—the strong, singular woman surrounded by all men—for the amazing show of stunts and fist-fights. We braced ourselves for special effects true to the tradition of the Tomb Raider franchise, but found none save for some rotating rocks, explosions here and there, and a location set that shows a few shots of the island but for the most part are in the façade of a temple or inside it. The death-defying scenes would have been breathtaking, but they’re stretched all too long they make the suspense evaporate, like the sequence where Lara dashes into the forest or is washed down the river and gets trapped in a rusty plane suspended in a ravine. So we found ourselves not rooting for Lara Croft at all. There’s foreshadowing of more of Kristin Scott Thomas’ Ana Miller if there is a sequel, but we’re not excited for the next instalment given what we’ve seen.
The movie is a father-daughter relationship story and the harrowing choice between family and serving the greater good to save mankind and, choosing to sacrifice oneself to save the world, the father finds himself circling back to the nucleus of that relationship that he holds dear: I gave up my life so that you, my daughter, might live. The poignant message is complicated by opportunistic attempts to use what is evidently harmful (Himiko’s remains or what she represents) for evil ends. The movie is benign, it does not corrupt, but neither does it inspire. (ME)