Seeing this reboot/prequel movie of Tomb Raider (2018) makes me wonder if Angelina Jolie saw it. Like, did she order it in her private cinema, just herself and tub of butterscotch ice cream, and she ate the whole damn thing while watching this nearly two-hour adventure flick?
And, if she did do that, did she come out of it feeling good? Or did she remember her sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life and start crying again?
Try as I might, and as neutral as I was going in to see this, I couldn’t hate it.
Some sequences were fun and exciting. The bike chase at the beginning of the movie was a fresh take on Lara and her character. Alicia Vikander, who previously played robot girl in Ex Machina, gives a charismatic and playfully youthful performance of Lara Croft.
Though her tits aren’t as big as Angelina Jolie’s, she still has an amazing body that perfectly grasps, jumps, shoots, and swims with grace and strength. Though her voice might be a bit shrill at times, she gives a well-rounded and convincing portrayal of everyone’s second favorite archaeologist.
Her newly met companion, Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu, of Into the Badlands fame, is also a great character and has a likable personality and mannerisms. Though he tries to play the gruff sea captain at first, he quickly melts into a sidekick with heart.
The other two characters, the bad guy played by Walter Goggins, and Lara’s father, played by Dominic West, feel like their acting capabilities are wasted. Perhaps it was their dialogue, perhaps it was the very characters they were trying to portray, just something was off and missing from both great actors. Like as if maybe they were there just for a paycheck? Scandal!
The movie begins with Lara living life on the lam, avoiding signing her father’s death certificate and inheriting his vast financial empire. Lara refuses to believe he is dead, even though all signs point to a lost expedition.
When Lara is finally about to break and sign the papers, she is given a Japanese puzzle box from the estate lawyer to be given to her upon her father’s death.
With a twist and a turn, Lara quickly discovers the final destination of her father, the lost tomb of an ancient Japanese queen, one who was said to kill men by the touch and could have conquered the world, had she not been contained on an ancient island of the coast of Japan.
Lara quickly sets off to find the captain who emailed the price to transport and a picture of the boat to take him on his final quest.
She soon finds the ship and the captain, the son of the man who emailed her father all those years ago. They both set sail to this island off the coast of Japan.
Of course they crash into the island, leaving them stranded and immediately facing a contingent of Trinity troops on the island, tasking slave labor with trying to uncover the entrance to the ancient tomb.
Lara unwittingly gives the main bad guy the book containing all of her father’s information as to the location of the tomb. He thanks her and tries to enslave her.
She runs, at Lu's cue, and escapes in a particularly dramatic scene capping off with an interesting struggle on a crashed airplane sitting on the edge of a waterfall.
Lara is then hunted by a Trinity soldier at night, but after her first kill of another human, a scene that is tragically under-utilized, Lara spots someone watching her. It’s her father!
She discovers that he’s been stranded on this island in hiding and has been giving Trinity false leads to throw them off from the tomb’s true location.
Lara and her father don’t really seem to have too much chemistry, though that wasn't felt in the earlier flashbacks scenes with Lara as a young girl, either.
Dominic West just feels like he is dialing it so hard, he should be using a rotary phone. I usually like the guy, he was great in 300, but he’s just so dry and distant. Even when he’s trying to portray a man nearly mad with loneliness, he still can’t even act with the right kind of distance.
From there Lara tries to correct her mistake in allowing Trinity to find the location of the deadly queen’s tomb.
Trinity finds it quick, but soon discovers that it has a japanese puzzle lock keeping the entrance closed. They are close, but only Lara can unlock such a puzzle. For reasons.
Lara and Lu try to stage a revolt, using the other prisoners, but Lara finds herself forced to choose, by Mathias, to either open the tomb to save her newly captured father’s life, or let him die and lose him a second time.
Once unlocked, with her intelligence and previous foreshadowing to Japanese puzzle locks, the entrance gives way to pit.
They go in, solve some Indiana Jones-style trap/puzzles and finally reach the queen’s chambers. It’s in there that Lara and the rest discover the true secret of the deadly queen. She sent herself to die on this island, so that none may use her awful gift for evil.
The queen had a disease, she was a carrier, immune to its effects. What does it do? Well it either causes you to rot really quick, make you go mad, or both. I couldn’t tell because both of those effects were displayed by the dead-as-soon-as-they-got-there goons.
Mathias tries to get away with a finger of the queen to give to Trinity so he finally get off the island. Lara’s dad gets infected and decides to blow up the tomb with him in it. A tearful goodbye allows Lara to finally know how her father dies; Like a Jihadist bomber, but with good intentions.
Lara catches up to Mathias, they fight, she shove the deadly finger in his mouth and causes him to rot from the tongue as Lara kicks him off a cliff into a pit of bones. Goodbye, Mathias.
Lara gets out in both the last second and with some help from Lu, who just can’t quit Lara. The helicopter Mathias had radioed in shows up, and is hijacked by the Lara, Lu, and the rest of the survivors. They all head back to civilization, leaving the cursed island and it’s tomb forever.
Lara comes back to the lawyer's office, fully signs her father’s papers, take control of the company and quickly discovers that it has been used by his father’s ex to fund Trinity.
The last 3 minutes sets it up as though it deserves a sequel, but I really don’t think it does. Any movie that is so full of itself to believe it needs another two-hour movie to wrap-up all the loose ends, needs to get out of video game mode and go into cinema mode.
Rating: 2 Garbage Cans out of 4. This movie movies really hard. Like almost harder than any movie I’ve seen before. At times it feels manufactured, and that’s probably because it was.
While the main actress is a delight, the setting and tone appropriate, and the CG is thankfully used in a mostly non-distracting manner, the rest of the movie does what movies do to a formulatic degree.
While I wouldn’t mind a sequel, I really don’t think Tomb Raider (2018) deserves one.
As far as placement on the Tomb Raider timeline, This movie would have been the perfect prequel to the Tomb Raider (2013) game, of which was set directly after the death of Lara’s father. A few plot items misplaced, but it would have been perfect placement. Would have.
As it stands, it’ll probably always be the Tomb Raider movie that people will refer to as “the one without Angelina Jolie”. I hope she’ll find some solace in that and not in her half-eaten tub of butterscotch ice cream.
Check out my review of Rise of the Tomb Raider, if you haven't already! These reviews compliments each other, like a fine red wine and steak.