I’m pretty fortunate when it comes to sneak previews. I’ve seen a few films before they’ve officially been released and I’ve written about my fortune on here before, I’m sure. My latest “see it before it comes out” is Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander. The only film I think I know her from is that abominable fifth Bourne movie—Bourne Agenda, or Bourne Predictability. Whatever it was called, she was the government stooge that poked the bear. You know, the Bourne bear. This Tomb Raider is a second kick at the can as Angelina Jolie had previously been Lara Croft in two movies. I remember Daniel Craig being in one of them but not much else. Was Gerard Butler in the other one? Ah hell, I don’t remember.
This film sees Lara going on a search for her father after he disappears some seven years before the film’s present. There’s mention of a remote island off the coast of Japan where a supernatural emperor was buried. Said emperor was cursed, killed tons of people, caused streets to run red with blood etc. Lara’s father, Richard (played by Dominic West, the guitar player in Steel Dragon), goes searching for the island and emperor in hopes of protecting the world from the curse that could be unleashed. We fast forward to the present where Lara has to take the inheritance willed to her as the world presumes her father is dead. A couple puzzles, a hidden room in a tomb, and she’s off to Japan via China.
Lara tracks down the guy that rented the boat service to her father but surprise—it’s the guy’s son! After some cajoling, she convinces him to take her to the island via boat. They go and the route is treacherous. Of course the island is in the middle of the Devil’s Sea or some such thing. Turbulent weather galore, and the boat is demolished. The two are separated for about five minutes. She wakes up on a cot in the tent of the antagonist, and he’s been working the chain gang helping the antagonist to dig up the emperor’s tomb. Fast forward through some predictable movie tropes and we end up with him leading the captives to safety and her finding her father. Insert eye roll. He’s been alive the whole time and protecting the emperor’s tomb by misleading the antagonist. Again, eye roll.
Once we get Lara, Richard, the antagonist (whose name I can't remember), and a few thugs into the tomb, the movie tries hard for an Indiana Jones vibe. There’s a few puzzles to solve, a few traps to dissuade intruders. You know how it goes. Once in the actual tomb, we’re reminded of the curse and such. I was actually a bit surprised here that the film didn’t take a supernatural turn. Instead, it turns out the emperor was the host of a horrible disease and while immune herself, was the cause of much death. Her “tomb” was actually a sanctuary she secluded herself to in order to stop the spread of the disease. Pretty cool twist as I was prepared for a full-on supernatural bullshit ending. Antagonist dies along with his goons and Richard protects the tomb forevermore, killing himself in the process. Again, you can see this coming a mile away. Tomb goes boom, but Lara survives. Huzzah. Final scenes of the movie show Lara finally signing papers to get the inheritance and be the big boss of her father’s companies and holdings. Twist alert—the lady pushing her to sign in the first place is probably a bad guy! There’s some shady shadow corporation called Trinity and she’s probably the head of it. Sequels-ville, population Tomb Raider. Insert eye roll. Again.
I like action movies. I like shitty action movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. I can throw away reality for a couple hours if the trip is enjoyable. Clocking in somewhere around two hours, Tomb Raider wasn’t awful but wasn't great. The antagonist was a poor choice, the effects were a bit silly, and efforts by the film to make characters endearing came off cheesy. A film like this shouldn’t try so hard to win people over. Action, good effects, and a tongue firmly in cheek is all it takes. Indiana Jones has spoiled me on this action/adventure genre I guess. So, there will probably be more of these films if it does well at the box office. I didn’t hate it and so long as no one is expecting the mould to be broken, some entertainment can be found within Tomb Raider.