Stepping into Angelina Jolie’s shoes was never going to be an easy task for Alicia Vikander, so whether we like it or not, comparisons between the two performances are going to be made and that’s perfectly acceptable in the great scheme of things. Luckily for us, and for Vikander in particular, the new reboot of the iconic early 2000s computer game inspired franchise Tomb Raider, does pretty much exactly what is expected from it by offering up a story packed to the rafters with action set pieces, even if it’s ultimately let down by a slightly clumsy screenplay held together with a rather facile and hackneyed plot.
After the disappearance of her billionaire adventurer father Richard (Dominic West) 7 years earlier, Lara Croft (Vikander) has found it hard to accept that he might never be coming back and has thus far refused to sign the papers that will finally declare him legally dead, and her as the rightful heir to his vast fortune.
Working as a London bike courier by day and training at a local kick-boxing gym by night, Lara is fiercely independent, but has been finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. When she is yet again approached by Richard’s employee Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lara finally agrees to sign the papers giving her power over Richard’s fortune. However when she is presented with a mysterious Japanese puzzle by her father’s will executor (played by Derek Jacobi), Lara solves the puzzle instantly and soon discovers a secret room which could finally solve the mystery of Richard’s disappearance.
Armed with the money she earned from pawning a priceless Asian amulet to a dodgy pawn-broker (played by Nick Frost), Lara decides to travel half way across the world in the hope of solving the mystery. Mayhem ensues when she meets Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), the owner of a decrepit fishing boat, who agrees to help her in her quest.
Director Roar Uthaug (The Wave, 2015) excels in offering up some impressive action set pieces, but where things get a little too samey is in the film’s inability to down tools and take a breather in between these sequences. As we are relentlessly bombarded by elaborate chase and fight scenes, it would have perhaps been more beneficial to trust Vikander’s acting abilities to give the film what it needed the most, a little bit of heart and brain power.
Vikander does an excellent job as the young Lara Croft, she plays her as someone who has yet to discover her own strength and resolve. Some might feel the need to compare hers and Jolie’s physical attributes in the most crass manner, but ultimately her performance is strong enough to warrant several sequels, providing things go as well as expected for this enjoyable, yet flawed reboot.
On the whole, Tomb Raider doesn’t really take enough risks for it to be anything but deeply ordinary, but if it’s action you’re after and are more than happy to ignore its obvious shortcomings in the plot stakes, then you’ve come to the right place. A perfectly passable film which could have done with a meatier storyline, but let’s not hold that against it too much.
Tomb Raider is in cinemas from Friday 16th of march