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Tomb Raider review - Alicia Vikander shines in enjoyable adaptation


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In 2001, Angelina Jolie brought video game icon Lara Croft to the big screen in the tongue-in-cheek action romp Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Now, seventeen years later, director Roar Uthaug brings the character back with Alicia Vikander, helming a drastically different adaptation. Despite a tonal shift though, Tomb Raider offers a promising if not underwhelming start to this new Lara Croft series.

The film follows Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) who, seven years after her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West),  went missing, finds new evidence telling her where he may have gone. Determined to put an end to the mystery surrounding his disappearance, Lara travels to a mysterious island off the coast of Hong Kong in a bid to find out what happened to him. Upon arrival though, Lara discovers that something more sinister is going on, as she battles to prevent Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) and his mercenary group from retrieving an ancient power that threatens the world.

As far as its plot goes, Tomb Raider is bang average. Whilst there are some great character choices for Lara, and many moments faithfully adapted from the 2013 video game, there are a couple of story choices that are pretty disappointing. A lot of the time it feels like the film is just going through the motions in order to get Lara to become 'the 'tomb raider'. However, it's handled well enough so that the formality of her character development is by no means boring to watch; it's just lacking in surprise.

Alicia Vikander is by far the best thing about the movie with her completely different take on Lara being more in line with the newer games, and fitting to the grounded approach the film is going for. The role is certainly a physically demanding one, but the actress does an excellent job throughout and makes for a convincing action star. Good also is Walter Goggins as antagonist Mathias Vogel who, although underutilised somewhat, is a convincing, if not generic, villain, who has believable motivation.

As for Tomb Raider’s action, there are a number of exciting set pieces that are presented well enough to brush over the fact that they are pretty CGI-heavy. They are, however, not the most innovative, so not only do some scenes feel quite familiar but it’s also easy to predict how they will play out. The solid execution of these scenes though, particularly one stealth sequence, keeps the film entertaining.

One thing that Tomb Raider does really suffer from is over-explanation. There is a ton of expository dialogue and multiple flashback sequences that are only included to make it blatantly clear to the audience what’s going on and why. Not only is a lot of this dialogue repetitive, it also takes away a lot of the film's mystery, especially the opening sequence, which explains far too much.

Tomb Raider is by no means a ground-breaking film. It is, however, a good enough origins story for Lara Croft and sets up what is sure to be an inevitable sequel. It’s an enjoyable, if not predictable, action adventure film, elevated by Vikander’s great leading performance.

Tomb Raider is in cinemas now, distributed by Paramount Pictures

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