Tomb Raider is an uninspired adaptation filled with hammy performances and one-dimensional characters.
The Tomb Raider franchise isn’t what it used to be back in the original PlayStation era. Back then, Lara Croft was a blocky archaeologist that explored tombs and fought fierce dinosaurs. The 2013 reboot re-established the origins of the female character and placed more emphasis on solving puzzles and shooting guns at enemy humans in a desolate island. The plot of the new film follows that of the rebooted video game, but while more rooted in reality, this is an uninspired adaptation filled with hammy performances and one-dimensional characters.
Despite having millions in the bank, Lara Croft works as a bike courier that transports documents from place to place, but she also enjoys boxing and playing dangerous games with her friends. After an accident takes her to prison, Lara’s informed by her lawyer that she must reclaim the inheritance from his father or she’ll lose it forever, along with the Croft mansion. Since claiming it would mean accepting the death of her father, Lara hesitates and while she’s reminiscing about his loved one, she finds a Karakuri puzzle box that leads to a secret chamber where she finds a recorded message that takes her to… well, as in most adventure movies one clue leads to the next and so on.
Lara eventually gets to Hong Kong where she hires a man named Lu Ren to take her on his boat to the island of Yamatai. In the distant place, Lara finds out that a shadowy organization known as Trinity’s leading an expedition to locate the tomb of Himiko who’s said to have power over life and death. There are some twists that take place in the island and I’ll refrain talking about those surprises, but rest assured that there’s a lot of tomb raiding and booby trap navigation.
There are some problems with this film and some of them are almost impossible to ignore. Lara Croft is a problematic character: there are moments where she’s characterized as a strong and capable woman and there are moments where she’s just a punching bag. She’s completely unobjectified which has been a serious issue in the past, but she’s also bland and insecure. For a film that makes an extraordinary effort to make miss Croft such a human character, it doesn’t help that when she does something truly spectacular it’s surrounded by artificial CGI and overly gymanstic action sequences.
On top of that, the plot is absolutely uninspired and derivative. I like to see that the story is more rooted in reality this time around (there were more magical elements in the Angelina Jolie movies,) but there’s nothing exciting or original replace the time machines or homicidal robots of the previous entries. There are cursed tombs, a remote island, a shadowy corporation with nefarious intentions, but none of those elements are put to good use.
Also, this movie doesn’t answer simple questions like: how can a young woman who works in London as a courier can just kill a Green Beret? How can Lara Croft, someone who isn’t an archaeologist yet, solve convoluted Japanese puzzles just by looking at them? How can she recover from fatal injuries so fast? Maybe you could say that Tomb Raider is heavily inspired in a video game and those seldom answer to reason, but in the context of the film several scenes don’t make any sense.
At times, when it deliver mindless action or when the adventure aspect of this movie takes you unexpected places to find some pristine wonders, Tomb Raider is at its best. In fact, it reminded me of 80s or 90s action films where you just needed a simple premise and a capable hero or heroine to pull it off. Sadly those moments are rare and what’s left is simply dull. Tomb Raider is watchable, but don’t expect a lot from this frustrating, plain and forgettable movie.