After her adventurer father (Dominic West) disappears searching for an ancient Japanese burial site, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) decides to set off in search of him after gaining access to his secret research that points towards a global conspiracy and an all-powerful organisation that seeks control of a long-buried secret...


 


There's been countless thinkpieces, opinions, explanations and analyses as to why videogame adaptations have continuously failed both critically and commercially. Previously, the thinking was that the experience of playing a game is an active one whilst watching a movie based on a game is a passive one. Others argued that the source material just wasn't up to much, whilst a similar argument puts forward the idea that videogames - certainly more modern ones - are taking inspiration from film and attempting to bridge the gap between the two. Tomb Raider's rebooted game went back to basics and aimed for a more gritty, realistic experience and so to does the film that takes much of the story beats from the game.


Alicia Vikander's performance as Lara Croft is spirited, to say the least. She throws herself into the stunt work as much as possible, is well able to grunt and punch with the best of them, and certainly looks the part - but there's very little in the way of connection with the audience. The whole emotional crux of the film rests on her relationship with her father, played by Dominic West, which doesn't materialise in the slightest and Vikander's aloofness just adds to this vacuum between them. Likewise, the criminally underrated Walton Goggins does his best with the clunky material, but ultimately comes off looking bored and worn out - though that could just a creative choice by his character. Either way, he looks bored and it looks too real to be an act. Dominic West, meanwhile, acts merely as an exposition delivery device and rattles off flat dialogue about international conspiracies, a hidden tomb that hides a dark secret, and all sorts of terribleness you'd expect from a film based on a game.


To director Roar Uthang's credit, there's a decent attempt made to try and emulate the most obvious influence - Raiders Of The Lost Ark - but the central character here lacks the charm and presence, and the overall premise is just a retread of things we've already seen. Again, Vikander's more than game for the action (no pun intended), but all that enthusiasm doesn't translate to anything particularly compelling. It's not all bad, however. The action sequences are competently directed and there's more than a few scenes that get pretty hairy. As an adaptation of a well-known gaming franchise, it's pretty faithful to the source material without being a slave to it - and there's a sense that with a sharper script and a more adventurous director, there could have been something here.


As it stands, Tomb Raider never gets beyond being just OK, but acquits itself as being one of the better videogame adaptations out there - but that's not saying much.