DIR: Roar Uthaug • WRI: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons • PRO: Graham King • DOP: George Richmond • ED: Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read, Michael Tronick • MUS: Junkie XL • DES: Gary Freeman • CAST: Alicia Vikander, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins
Adapting video games into films takes a great deal of hard work. The two are inherently different mediums with very little in common. Video games are interactive in both mental, emotional and physical ways. Films are only interactive in the latter two categories. And yet people keep trying to smooth the edges between the two because, well, video games are the biggest entertainment industry in the world and with Tomb Raider the crossover potential is huge.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a young heiress shirking her responsibilities in London until Ana Miller, (Kristin Scott Thomas) a partner in the multi-million-dollar company Croft Holdings, convinces Lara to declare her father Richard (Dominic West) legally dead and claim her birth right. Instead Lara goes gallivanting across the globe to a hidden island to find her father. With her is ship captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) and on her tail is jaded mercenary Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins).
Tomb Raider is based off the reboot of the game series that was released in 2013. It’s an origin story and quite an average one at that. Full of tropical locales, mercenaries and ancient tombs Tomb Raider is neither daring nor boring. Its action sequences are quite CGI heavy but the fact that most of them – besides a stunningly lit shipwreck scene – take place in the daytime is a relief. Lara is often left battling her environment as much as the thugs in sweat-stained shirts. An escape from an old World War II plane manages to be both thrilling and true to the same event in the game.
Alicia Vikander is committed to her role which is something never really seen in video-game adaptations. Timothy Olyphant shaving his head for Hitman in 2007 doesn’t count. From the very start it’s quite clear from all the lean muscle on display that Vikander went all in to portray the action heroine as most people now know her. Despite all this, there’s not a great deal of emotional range in the character or even in the film. Walton Goggins just seems tired even when it looks as though he’s about to win. Dominic West never achieves much more than sad man with a mullet. Daniel Wu is underused, and it feels like there’s a few key scenes missing for his character.
On the technical side of things Tomb Raider is almost flawless. The action, from a bike race at the beginning to one-on-one fight scenes later, is kinetic and clear cut. Lara’s skin-of-her-teeth escapes are, as previously stated, very heavy on the average quality CGI but that’s a small price to pay just to see her escape a plane dangling over a waterfall. Tom Holkenborg’s score booms and blasts as George Richmond’s camera moves in quick but never confused fashion.
Tomb Raider is a good adaptation of its source material and one of the more viable properties to create a film franchise from but it stops there. There will never be a perfect game adaptation, even a great one is unlikely. The mediums are too different to ever really gel in a way that could conceivably work or please the vast majority. Still, Tomb Raider is a hell of an action movie and if that’s what the people want I say give to them.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Tomb Raider is released 16th March 2018