There’s an old adage that says everything old is eventually new again. Trends tend to repeat themselves when it comes to fashion, music and many other forms of popular culture, particularly films and television. Given this fact, the remake or reboot has been an excuse many creators who seem to be suffering a dry spell use when it comes to crafting something fresh and new, tending to rely on cranking out a product quicker that is based on an already tried formula. Franchises will get pulled out of mothballs every so often and given a fresh coat of paint as the technology moves forward, providing new experiences based on old favorites. A classic example of this is “Tomb Raider” and its iconic character, Lara Croft, whose exploits have been well documented across multiple gaming platforms and two films starring Angelina Jolie, with mixed results as the both the game and film series aged. In 2013, the game franchise was given a hard reboot, setting the timeline back in Lara’s late teen/early 20s when she was just cutting her teeth on artifact gathering and globe-trotting. It was a welcome change to the franchise, featuring a darker and grittier tone that had before descended into borderline camp at times. It was only natural to expect a film reboot as well given the success of the game. Now, after several years of development, false starts, rumors, and even a shift in studios, Lara’s back again in “Tomb Raider”.
Alicia Vikander is Croft, a young woman with a troubled past. Her father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), has been missing for several years and presumed dead, but she refuses to acknowledge his passing, as that would signify to her that he’s gone forever. Burying her feelings, she chooses a life on the streets rather than accepting her inheritance and living an easier life. She starts piecing clues together and following the trail her father left behind, finding herself on an isolated island in the Far East, where her father was hoping to neutralize the threat of a dark force capable of laying waste to all of civilization. Pursued by a rival plunderer and unhinged agent driven mad by ambition, Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins), Lara must press on in her quest to uncover her father’s past and her struggle to survive.
This film was a mixed bag for me. As a longtime fan of the game series (particularly the 2013 reboot), the film comes off as a half-hearted attempt to capitalize on an already established property without any real emotion. The dilemma of Lara’s struggle of dealing with her separation from her beloved father (a central theme running throughout the story) just doesn’t translate well here and feels forced. The iconic set-pieces from the game that appear in the film are truly dazzling, but they are too few and far between, with far too many liberties are taken with the story pulled from the 2013 game that it just feels like a rush job. If more time and care had been taken with the screenplay, this could have been one for the ages, but as it is, it’s just a few hours of mostly forgettable mindless entertainment that could have been so much better.