Tomb Raider (review)

Mar 15, 2018

The new Lara Croft is an intelligent, robust young woman on a mission.

Tomb Raider

Grade: C+

Director: Roar Uthaug (The Wave)

Screenplay: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons

Cast: Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Dominic West (The Wire)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hr 58 min

by John DeSando

“All myths are foundations of reality.” Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West)

The reality of the Lara Croft Tomb Raider franchise is that it is mediocre storytelling born of video gaming, whose heroine is a bright, resourceful young woman. Passing from Angelina Jolie is easy because Alicia Vikander, not as beautiful, is happily a serious intellectual with a curious mind and a healthy body that doesn’t dominate the screen.

In searching for her lost father, Richard, who had been searching for the tomb, this Lara is in the modern tradition of heroines searching for a parent (e.g., Logan, Wrinkle in Time). She also has the Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark archaeological bug taking her to the strange Japanese island, Yamatai that allows us to be drawn into a search for a mystical tomb of Japanese Queen of Death, Himiko.

Lara is mostly serious, a salutary state given the sardonic talk of many characters in super hero films these days. However, she is no super hero, just a very athletic young woman whose prowess with her hands and feet is firmly established in the first sequence and played out in numerous set pieces. Yet she’s frequently beaten up and hardly invulnerable. The film has too-long a setup for her feistiness and her sadness at the seven-year absence of her father (see Wrinkle in Time for the consequences of leaving your child for a greater cause).

After her jumping and wrestling, the film has nothing new to add to the lore of tomb raiding so well exemplified by Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. It’s possible, however, that young viewers will enjoy the low-key characters in heavy CGI without demanding even more video-game non-sequiturs.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at