Second Union

Second Union

REVIEW: Tomb Raider is “Paint-By-Numbers”

Always open-minded about reboots, the latest Tomb Raider movie, starring Alicia Vikander, showed promise in the trailer for a female rendition of Indiana Jones. Based on the video game of the same name, the story has been adapted prior with Angela Jolie in the lead. Lara Croft, heir to a vast fortune, discovers her long-lost father is not dead but in hiding… a family secret that remains buried in an ancient tomb (hence the title of the movie) that could unveil global death and destruction to all of mankind. Though gritty in times, Vikander is certainly sex appeal for a generation seeking female empowerment in an era where Black Widow is due to take her closing bow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What remains, however, is a movie that follows the same old tried-and-true formula that could best be compared to modern-day action pictures as “paint by numbers.”

Alicia Vikander in TOMB RAIDER (2018).

Throughout most of the movie, Lara Croft is subjected to horrific death-defying scrapes ala Helen Holmes and Pearl White in the silent cliffhanger serials. Lara attempts to balance on the collapsing wrecking of a plane, survives a perilous waterfall, gets shot and wounded multiple times, and about two-thirds of the way through the movie I questioned whether or not she was a hero or a damsel in distress. Understandably, this portrayal of Lara Croft was an origin story, as set up in the final scene of the movie. (And one post-credits sequence that is worthy for “fans” of the genre, but no need to stay all the way through the closing credits after the initial post-credits scene.) But a woman with street smarts and brass balls cannot evolve into a modern-day Indiana Jones simply through one climactic scene involving her father — the suspension of disbelief is tough to swallow.

One reviewer for a major trade column referred to Lara Croft as a “punching bag and onlooker” throughout the movie so I know I was not the only person to observe this. You can see the potential for a sequel that will live up to the reputation and hype, and being the eighth most profitable in 2018 (at the time this review is composed) suggests the studio may commission sequels. In closing, it might be better to quote Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune when he wrote: “The Lara Croft reboot Tomb Raider isn’t half bad for an hour. Then there’s another hour. That hour is quite bad. It’s no fun watching your action heroine get shoved, punched and kicked to the sidelines of her own movie, while the menfolk take over and take turns overacting before expiring.” My sentiments exactly.

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