The world’s second most famous ass-kicking archaeologist is back, this time heading to Japan in search of her missing father in this reboot starring Alicia Vikander. Alicia Vikander? From The Danish Girl? Really? Yes.
The character of Lara Croft is rather simple. She’s basically a less sexy version of Indiana Jones. She’s an archaeologist, she shoots guns, she kicks ass, all while wearing very limited clothing. Yet somehow this film manages to get her completely wrong.
The combative sex object of the video games is at least a strong female lead. But here Lara is just along for the ride, a secondary character in her own film. The central conflict is between her father (Dominic West) and his long-time rival Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), and this could easily have been resolved without Lara altogether. The script feels like the plot of a National Treasure film with a Lara Croft impersonator clumsily plonked in the middle.
Not only does she do no actual detective work beyond following messages set by her father 7 years previously (in a quest which is now somehow urgent). She’s also imprisoned, enslaved, and taken passively from one place to the next. The keys to locked chambers are typically to be found in the immediate vicinity of the lock, and when she does have to solve something it’s about as challenging as the puzzles on Jungle Run.
In the opening scenes she’s shown to be an accomplished kickboxer, but spends most of the film getting beaten up, and is usually saved by blind luck rather than any capability on her part. But not only is she totally passive, she’s also not an archaeologist, meaning she doesn’t even have the intellectual clout of her pixelated counterpart.
The miscasting of Vikander puts the film on the wrong footing from the start; like Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars prequels, Swedish Vikander seems so focused on doing an English accent that she forgets to actually act, and she speaks so quietly she’s more like Lara Croft: Boom Evader. The emotional core of the film is supposedly her relationship with her father, in cringey, saccharine scenes made worse by West’s wooden performance.
Its attempts to modernise and follow recent trends are excruciatingly obvious, including pop music, urban sports and direct borrows of Katniss Everdeen‘s bow and arrow and hand signals from The Hunger Games. It tries to rework Croft into the Katniss mould, perhaps to try and broaden Lara’s appeal to include the lucrative teen girl market. But it totally misses the point, focusing on superficial similarities rather than making her into a strong, self-motivated character in a genuinely entertaining film.
This could be partially forgiven if there was some decent action but there isn’t. She kicks precious little ass and raids even less tomb. It should be called Tomb Stroller. The result is a slow, boring, limp, wet disaster that should be buried deep under ground and never disturbed. This amateurish, sub Indiana Jones adventure will leave you bored out of your crystal skull.