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Movie Breakdown: Tomb Raider (Noah)

March 15, 2018

Film

Pre-Screening Stance:

Aside from the fact Alicia Vikander is in this, I can’t see any reason whatsoever this video game couldn’t stay just that.

Post-Screening Ramble:

In some board meeting somewhere, Roar Uthaug and his crew for Tomb Raider answered the question, “So how much is Tomb Raider like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade?” with “It’s like that movie, but with a woman.” Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander in a role I hope we all soon forget, is built upon the scavenged bones of the action-packed Spielberg film. Instead of Harrison Ford getting his face smashed against a wall, it is instead Ms. Vikander who’s subjected to the rougher side of nature – and power-hungry looters – before plunging into a cavern decked out with pointy traps. Vikander plays the titular Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, a hipster hiding from her inheritance – and the reality of her father’s death – by bike messaging around the city for loose change. A Japanese puzzle leads her to the true occupation of her explorer father which leads her to a tiny island off the coast of Japan and Walter Goggins’ sneering Vogel. From there, arrows are shot, traps are sprung, a slightly redundant though not uninteresting storyline is squandered. There’s a moment in the film, when Vikander’s grimaces of pain have turned into grimaces of “I’ve accepted who I am” where Uthaug and his screenwriters (Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Giddons) seem to realize they can ease the vehicle into Indiana Jones mode and it’ll coast just fine. Any attempt at interesting, non-regurgitated action dialogue pap falls to the side and the rest of the film just sort of spills out in front of the viewer. It becomes, entirely, The Last Crusade but without the ingenuity, the reasoning or the cleverness. Here, Lara Croft deals with traps because, well, traps are supposed to be in dungeons. Her solutions to evading these traps – if she must solve anything at all – aren’t based on anything we’ve learned up to this point, instead dialogue is yelled until it shakes loose some meaning. I kid you not, a trap in this film is disarmed by Lara Croft piecing together what amounts to an ancient Light Bright, though Light Bright’s provided me with more entertainment than anything in the final 40 minutes of Tomb Raider. It’s a bit disappointing because Vikander brings all of her acting chops and dedication to what amounts to two hours of running, jumping and not dying. She isn’t bad per say, she just isn’t given much to do. For those hoping that a film directed by a decently regarded Norwegian action director and a few talented actors would pull Tomb Raider out of the moat of shitty video-game-to-movie adaptations, you’ll have to keep hoping.

One Last Thought:

I literally thought Walter Goggins’ could do no wrong, but his Vogel is as bland a villain as any I’ve seen on screen. And it isn’t just the writing, Goggins doesn’t do anything with the character. He just spouts slightly villainous lines and tries to look mean. I’m hoping it’s a rare bump in an other wise stellar career.

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