The Croft Legacy

Tomb Raider

Director: Roar Uthaug

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins, Alexandre Willaume, Hannah John-Kamen

Norwegian director Roar Uthaug reinvents the Tomb Raider franchise with Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) as Lara Croft.

Filmed primarily in South Africa, which exotic locations doubled for a mysterious island in the sea of Japan, Tomb Raider moves away from the popcorn CGI laden films of its previous inventions featuring Angelina Jolie, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003).

While Vikander is not as physically striking as Angelina Jolie, she brings a different more nuanced perception of Lara Croft as a rebellious and fiercely independent young British woman who is reluctant to take over the Croft Legacy until she can solve the mystery of her father Sir Richard Croft’s strange disappearance.

Richard Croft is played by Dominic West and Lara goes in search of her father in a tumultuous adventure which takes her from Hong Kong where she is accompanied by drunken sailor Lu Ren played by Daniel Wu (Warcraft) to a mysterious island housing the tomb of Hirimo, a Japanese death goddess who is fabled to bring destruction on the planet if the tomb is ever opened.

This Tomb Raider which clearly takes inspiration from the Indiana Jones films, mainly features Lara Croft pitted against a vindictive Matthias Vogel played with ruthless intent by Walton Goggins (Django Unchained) who is also planning to unlock the mythical tomb, while reporting to an elusive benefactor.

The emotional arc of the film is sufficiently carried by Alicia Vikander’s sustained acting as she conveys all the determination and intelligence of a brave and fearless heiress who needs to unlock the mystery of her father’s disappearance before rightfully claiming her vast inheritance from Croft Enterprises, which is eagerly guarded by the duplicitous Ana Miller played by Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour, The English Patient, Gosford Park).

While the rest of the cast pales in comparison to Vikander, director Roar Uthuag clearly stays within the confines of an adventure genre and does not rely heavily on CGI to embellish Tomb Raider to unbelievable proportions. Which makes Tomb Raider more a psychological adventure story than a physical one, although Vikander does undergo some gruelling stunts to live up to the Lara Croft reputation.

My only criticism is that George Richmond’s cinematography in Tomb Raider is very dark and could inadvertently lull the audience into boredom, especially the extended tomb sequences, which fortunately does not detract from the circular narrative which sustains the film’s pace if viewers concentrate properly.

Tomb Raider gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for those that enjoy an old fashioned adventure film with a distinctly feminine edge.

Whether a Tomb Raider sequel will appear, remains to be seen.

 

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