The first Tomb Raider game debuted in 1996, focused on Lara Croft, an incredibly wealthy heiress who travels the world looking for lost artifacts and relics. She’s Indiana Jones without the respect and day job. I have played several of the versions, but honestly I never get very far, because Lara ends up having to shoot wolves and other animals, and I just don’t care for that. I’d rather play any of the Uncharted series (If you haven’t played Uncharted: The Lost Legacy yet – go buy it now).
The first Tomb Raider movie was called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and came out in 2001 starring Angelina Jolie. It’s cheesy and a little ridiculous, featuring Jolie doing a british accent and a younger (not young, I don’t think he was ever young) Daniel Craig doing a terrible American accent.
That spawned a sequel where Lara and Gerard Butler chase after Pandora’s box. Then, in 2013, the game was rebooted, and Lara was reverse-aged a bit, taken back to her younger days as she learned to become the world’s foremost raider of tombs.
This movie is based on that reboot, and starts with a young Lara upset as her father leaves on an expedition. We then zip forward to learn that he’s been missing many years, and Lara is working as a bike messenger because she is refusing to sign the papers acknowledging her father’s death and accept her inheritance. In a conversation with her father’s associate and lawyer, she is given a puzzle box, which leads to her father’s secret office, which leads her to a man named Lu Ren in Hong Kong, which leads both of them to an island off the coast of Japan in search of the tomb of Himiko, an ancient queen who was said to bring death by her very touch.
After barely making it to the island, Lara and Lu stumble across a group of mercenaries hired by a shady company (aren’t they always?), and it becomes a race to the tomb to discover the truth of what was buried long ago.
The movie is fast paced, with tons of action, and is by director Roar Uthaug. He’s a Norwegian director and this is his first non-Norwegian film. I particularly enjoyed the chase sequences, of which there are several. There’s an interesting bike chase in the beginning, and foot chase in Hong Kong, and a chase at the very end. The hand to hand fights are also pretty great. The cast is pretty good:
- Alicia Vikander is good as a young Lara, she’s not yet the heiress comfortable in her money, but currently a scrapper, working to get what she needs. By the end of the movie, it’s actually not hard to believe she can grow into Angelina’s version.
- Daniel Wu plays Lu Ren, and I will say this again – if you are not watching Into the Badlands, you really should be. He’s great in this, even with very little to do. He is a perfect supporting character to Lara’s lead.
- Dominic West plays Lord Richard Croft, who eventually seems to drive himself mad researching Himiko’s tomb and the mysterious company who is after it.
- Walton Goggins plays Mathias Vogel, and he is fine, but honestly, when you have Walton Goggins, you want him to go a little crazy. Here he feels a bit restrained. I wanted him a bit more like he was in Predators – just straight up crazy and dangerous. Here, he does a great job of being tired, overworked, and frustrated by all Crofts in general.
- Kristin Scott Thomas plays Ana Miller, who is an associate of Lord Croft, and continues to assure Lara that Lara doesn’t need to worry about the business as she is keeping good care of it…. Or is she?
- Derek Jacobi shows up very briefly as the lawyer. And there is a Nick Frost cameo.
Overall, I was expecting this to be outright terrible, so I was really pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it was! I enjoyed the reveal of Himiko’s tomb/power once revealed, and the various action set pieces on the way to the reveal. It was certainly fun – and honestly, I hope they do make a sequel.
7 out of 10 – definitely benefitted from low expectations!
Bonus – Into the Badlands!