There’s been countless video game adaptations over the years, from the Mortal Kombat series to the somewhat lucrative Resident Evil franchise and a myriad of others, yet none of them have made the successful transition from pixelated form to film until now. Tomb Raider is the first video game adaptation that’s both thrilling to watch and is very much cinematic. Based on the 2013 video game that completely rebooted the former sex symbol Lara Croft’s franchise and focused instead on her origin story, this Tomb Raider is a fresh take on the action-adventure series, recalling the very best of the Indiana Jones films.
As played by Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Light Between Oceans), Lara Croft is a 21 year-old adrenaline junkie, whose hobbies include MMA fighting and taking part in extreme bike races. Penniless due to her refusal to believe that her wealthy father Richard Croft (The Affair‘s Dominic West), who disappeared seven years prior, is dead, (and therefore unwilling to sign off on her extravagant inheritance), Lara sabotages herself every chance she gets. Yet when she uncovers a series of clues in one of her father’s archeological artifacts, the newly hopeful adventurer sets off on a dangerous trip to the mysterious island of Yamatai, anxious to reunite with her long-lost father. Paired with the equally hopeful Lu Ren (Daniel Wu in a breakout role), whose father sold Mr. Croft a boat seven years earlier, Lara must use her quick wit, physical strength, and of course her bow and arrows, to save the world (in this case against Walton Goggins’ arch-villain).
Make no mistake, this is still very much a video game adaptation. One can easily decipher which scenes mark the end of a level in the game (Lara survives a waterfall clutching her knapsack! Lara runs across a crumbling plane while her hands are tied! Lara opens the tomb of the cursed Queen Himiko! Lara uses her fighting skills to fend off the final ‘boss’! you get the idea). However Vikander’s Lara Croft is a heroine who feels grounded in reality and the actress gives a visceral, captivating performance. Gone is the buxom, sexualized Croft from the Angelina Jolie films, and in her place is a vulnerable yet tenacious girl that you can’t help but root for.
The video game curse has finally been broken.