Say what you want about the original Tomb Raider films but I loved them. Angelina Jolie was a mega badass in those films and they were just great fun to watch, especially when she punches a shark and rides his dorsal fin to the surface in the second film. I mean, come on? That’s some fab, popcorn action right there. With these joyous reminiscent feelings still in my head, I turned my eye to the reboot of Tomb Raider and the woman who was to follow in Jolie’s footsteps. Well, who better to follow badass no. 1 but badass, killer on-screen-queen and heroine of one of my favorite films of the past 10 years (Ex Machina), Alicia Vikander. My heart soared. What a perfect fit! I was thrilled to see what she would do with the role. Spoiler: she nails it.
Lara Croft is the daughter of an eccentric adventurer who went missing in her youth. She is now 21 and has forsaken her family fortune, choosing instead to work for a messenger bike company. She spends most of her time riding through the streets of London on a two-wheeler. When new evidence comes into her hands about her father’s disappearance, Lara does the exact opposite of the instructions on the evidence (dear daughter, please destroy this box of papers; they must not get into the wrong hands) and decides to follow the papers to an obscure island where, inevitably, the papers fall into the wrong hands and the ‘rescue attempt’ becomes a massive catastrophe.
Look, like the first Tomb Raider films, this one isn’t exactly original, but just like the originals, it is the biggest bunch of fun that the price of a cinema ticket can buy. The best part of it is that Lara Croft even makes fun of the situations she finds herself in; after escaping a chase, tumbling off a waterfall, and being shot at, Lara finds herself in the husk of an abandoned plane. She has a brief breather and then the plane starts to tip. Vikander shrugs and says ‘not again!’ and the action starts again. It’s very tongue-in-cheek and the movie shows that it knows exactly what it is.
That said, Lara is still a force to be reckoned with. She is smart, resourceful, believably muscular, and strong. She is sure of her decisions and actions and is really just an all-around champ. The camera never sexualizes Vikander’s body or costume. Where the camera in the earlier films focused gratuitously on Jolie’s hip gun holsters, her ass, and her chest, the shots of Vikander show off her muscle. Her costume isn’t form-fitting—it is practical, and she gets sweaty and dirty in the movie (as you would doing the things that she does!). I cannot recall any leering or needless shots of her body. She is also treated equally by her co-stars, who are great by the way, especially Daniel Wu (Warcraft, Geostorm). Their banter is solid and the friendship, which is based on mutual respect, really grows in the film.
I will gladly watch another film if Vikander is still in the lead role. She is a muscular vision in this film. She makes the stunts look visibly taxing, which truly does enhance the viewing. She plays it like a real person would. I mean, she is still in fantastic shape and can do things I will never be able to do no matter how good my gym-going-intentions get. She gets covered in dirt, blood and god knows what else in this role and I just loved her more for it.
If you’ve had a bad day and need to escape your mind pirates, then I could not recommend this film enough. It is two hours of action-packed, beautifully shot popcorn fluff that made me feel happier after seeing it. You may even, like me, be inspired to renew your gym membership when you leave the cinema.