Latest Tomb Raider's realistic take marred by saccharine father-daughter relationship

Alicia Vikander plays a vulnerable Lara Croft.
Alicia Vikander plays a vulnerable Lara Croft.PHOTO: WARNER BROS

Alicia Vikander's take on the heroine is bland and saddled with a saccharine rendering of the father-daughter relationship



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2.5 stars

The story: Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is named heir to her father's company after Lord Croft (Dominic West) has been legally presumed dead. When she takes over his possessions, she finds clues that trace his search for the tomb of a Japanese goddess, during which he disappeared. She searches for her father, enlisting the aid of alcoholic fisherman Lu Ren (Daniel Wu).

Meet the new Lara Croft: She is a lot like the old one, but minus the invulnerability, superhuman abilities and guns.

Croft, as played by Vikander, gets wounded, feels pain and cannot make incredible leaps. She, in other words, is the most human Lara Croft yet, coming after the two Croft movies (2001 and 2004, featuring Angelina Jolie as a sleek, invulnerable Lara). The movies were as camp as they were convoluted in the cosmological puzzles she had to solve.

The problem is that, having got rid of the image of Croft as Glamour Adventurer Barbie, she has been replaced by Blah Barbie.

Vikander's more realistic take is fine, but it is bland and saddled with a saccharine rendering of the father-daughter relationship.

And there is a lot of that particular family dynamic here, reduced by Norwegian director Roar Uthaug and the screenwriters to a series of flashbacks and discovered notes that clunkily try to round out her humanity while moving the plot forward.

Apparent from the use of A-listers such as Kristin Scott Thomas (playing Croft Holding's corporate caretaker Ana Miller) and West as the Croft patriarch is the desire of the producers to surround the action with quality acting. If only as much attention had been paid to how the characters are written.

Lara, for example, is a member of the English aristocracy and that is said several times in the film, but there is nothing except Vikander's crisp sibilants that acknowledge this.

She goes about her day job as a bicycle messenger and dives into Hong Kong in search of Lu Ren (Wu) as any normal non-aristocratic person would.

The movie is based on the 2013 edition of the game and borrows some iconic sequences, such as the escape from the plane hulk, from the game. These running-leaping bits are fine, if a little uninspired, and cannot make up for the absence of any character that feels fresh or interesting.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'This Tomb Raider should remain buried'. Print Edition | Subscribe