The Origin of Lara Croft
Directed by Roar Uthaug
Starring Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Dominic West
Released March 16th, 2018
When we first meet Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) she is being punched in the face. Her sparring partner definitely has the upper hand in this match, although Lara shows a lot of heart. Soon enough it’s time for Lara to get back to her job as a bike messenger. I guess that’s the kind of movie we’re in for: bike messenger Lara who spars in her free time at the gym. Just call it the Fast and the Furious.
Vikander and Wu have a friendly, easy chemistry that makes me hopeful we will see a sequel so they can go on further adventures.
Lara is heir to the Croft fortune, but refuses to claim her inheritance because she can’t bring herself to believe her father is dead. Sir Richard Croft (Dominic West) has been missing for seven years, but he was a globe-trotting archaeologist, so this comes with the ancient territory. After she has a messy yet colorful run-in with the cops, Lord Croft’s business partner Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas) posts Lara’s bail and tells her if she doesn’t claim her inheritance, she will lose her father’s estate and all of his belongings.
Next thing you know, Lara finds a secret lair where her father kept his top-secret archeology stuff, and a video message to her saying something along the lines of “Hey kiddo, if you’re watching this I’m dead. Please burn all of my research, especially the box of files about Himiko, the ancient Japanese supernatural lady that I was obsessed with finding. Make sure you don’t go through the box and decide to try to find me or Himiko, OK? Thanks. Love, Dad.”
Lara isn’t one for following orders, or even last requests from loved ones, so she sets off to find her father using his box of maps and notes and such that he wanted her to burn. Lara reads up on Himiko, but doesn’t believe any of the mumbo jumbo about her possessing “power over life and death.” She just wants to find her dad. To that end, she travels to Hong Kong and hires a drunken sailor named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to sail his ship towards a mysterious island where she believes she will find answers. One harrowing shipwreck later, Lara is face to face with one of her father’s old associates, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins). Mathias is looking for Himiko on behalf of a mysterious organization named Trinity, but mostly he just wants to go home. And he’s willing to kill anyone he needs to in order to expedite his mission.
In the early 2000s, Angelina Jolie portrayed Lara Croft in two films based on the early Tomb Raider games. Those films are campy fun and fit that era like a glove. This film isn’t a remake of those films however, it’s based on the Tomb Raider video game reboot in 2013, which was as gritty and realistic as it could be while you were running around raiding tombs for supernatural artifacts.
Lara Croft is a very different role for Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, who is primarily known for indie films and costume dramas. She worked out for months in preparation for the physically demanding role, and it shows. She is unbelievably fit and incredibly charming. There are stunts aplenty (with some computer generated help) that will take your breath away, including a sequence in an airplane on a cliff that is the best of its kind I’ve seen since The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Vikander and Wu have a friendly, easy chemistry that makes me hopeful we will see a sequel so they can go on further adventures. If we are blessed with a follow up, we would also hopefully see more of Derek Jacobi and Nick Frost, talented actors who show up for a few scenes in this origin story. Like Die Hard and Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is a story about a hero finding herself, and thanks to Vikander’s commitment to the role, it’s a journey I’ll gladly take part in time and again. Tomb Raider is a well constructed movie with fun puzzles and dynamic action sequences along with an impressive cast and a fun, energetic vibe throughout, making it without question the best movie to date based upon a video game.