- Kevin Harley
- 14 March 2018
Alicia Vikander makes an ace Lara Croft in this persuasively scrappy reboot
Even if Angelina Jolie's deadening Tomb Raider movies didn't invent the curse of video-game adaptations, they certainly seemed to embody it. 15 years on, Alicia Vikander and The Wave director Roar Uthaug make a more persuasively scrappy fist of the job. It's hardly original, with Uthaug plundering the conventions of origin stories, but his ripping adventure gives Lara Croft a fighting chance, with no small credit due to its lead.
Vikander is a seamless fit as a light-fingered, fast-footed and mildly rebellious young Croft, who speaks in well-bred vowels but hasn't yet learnt how to break a head-lock in a fight. This semi-formed Croft's route to geek legend begins when her guardian Ana (Kristin Scott Thomas, no less) presses her into accepting that her 10-years-missing dad (Dominic West) is dead. Deeds signed, Lara inherits a key to a secret cellar containing clues to dad's past: what's all this about tombs and curses? Her findings drive her towards a lost island, where she becomes entangled in some gun-toting nasties' dig for a mythical temple and confronts three mysteries: her dad's disappearance, the curse of a Japanese sorceress, and how to bust out of that head-lock.
Breaking commercial filmmaking's tendency towards top-heavy spectacle, Uthaug tethers pace to perspective immersively between kinetic bicycle chases, slamming sea-storms and extreme vertiginous perils. Vikander responds with great commitment, holding our focus as she sells rote emotional beats, aces Batman Begins-style mud-fights, and flees weaponised tombs (Indiana Jones-style) amid crumbling plot-points for the climax. Her support proves flaky, be it Daniel Wu's boozy but strangely skilled sidekick, or Walton Goggins' generically sweaty menace Mathias Vogel. But it's good enough to leave you contemplating something rare: the prospect of a video-game movie sequel you wouldn't mind seeing. Try saying that about Assassin's Creed.
General release from Fri 16 Mar.