Tomb Raider (2018) – Review

Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16th.

By Chris Flanagan

The easiest death sentence for a movie is to label it as average.

I’ve been able to apply this philosophy many different ways to many different movies and sadly the new iteration of Tomb Raider is easily the most average movie I’ve seen this year. It almost pains me to write that. I never expected a lot from the movie in the first place. Sure, the cast looked great and the fresh take on video game icon looked like it was heading in a way better direction than that of the previous films, however, what I did not anticipate was the mediocre approach to the story and action set pieces that ultimately resulted in a pedestrian effort to pump new life into an existing franchise.

The main story centers around Lara Croft’s father and his obsession with finding a tomb of an ancient Japanese queen that is seen as a bringer of death. Her resting place is hidden in a small island off the Japanese coast and once there the one seeking her must endure several trials in order to get to her. Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before… Sprinkled in around that plot is Lara’s struggle to fit into the world in which her father left her to take care of herself. She has forsaken her family’s money and has tried to carve out a normal life, but her suppressed love of her father and a general curiosity for his mysterious disappearance thrusts her into his former shoes in search for the long-lost tomb. From there, the film follows the traditional beats of your typical adventure movies; finds the mysterious island and it’s not all that it seems, there is truth the to myths surrounding the queen and her tomb, a mysterious corporation is also seeking the tomb with the intent to sell its contents, world domination, blah, blah, blah.

What contributed even more to my disappointment with Tomb Raider was its immensely talented cast being wasted by a poorly developed script. Alicia Vikander, as Lara Croft, was given a decent backstory with her father leaving at a young age and her being left to pick up the pieces of her life in his wake, but the film spends too much time at the beginning showing just how hard she is trying to get away from her past and be someone she’s not. While I understand the need for several scenes to establish this part of her character, I did not understand devoting 20+ minutes to it. But the biggest tragedy of the entire film had to have been the usage, or lack thereof, of Walter Goggins as the resident bad guy, Mathias Vogel. His paper-thin motivation for why he’s even in the movie is so that he can return home to his two daughters after finding the treasure. Goggins has a paragraph of lines that express this sentiment and at the same time establishes that he’s the villain of the movie. Everything else he says are typical commands to his crew and the workers around him that do nothing to further explain his character.

Truthfully, Tomb Raider should not have been made. Better yet, it should have spent some more time being developed rather than rushing out whatever this was and thinking that it was good. Most people will read this and might think I’m being overly critical and while yes, that may be true to some degree, the one principle I’ve come to live by when watching any movie is that it’s alright if a movie is good or bad, but what cannot be tolerated is a movie that is average and is okay with it. Tomb Raider is exactly that movie. The action scenes appear as if everyone involved was just repeating other action scenes from other movies they’ve seen, the dialogue is minimal and stunted keeping Vikander held back as an actress which created a very wooden Lara Croft when there was an opportunity to have more and the gross misuse of its characters all contribute to this film being horribly mediocre. What’s worse, it’ll get away with it because Tomb Raider isn’t competing against any other major action film this weekend and therefore it will be a welcomed break from those that have seen four times already and need something new.

Tomb Raider isn’t awful, but it isn’t good and while that angers me for various reasons I think many people will not care as much about its averageness and find some semblance of enjoyment from it. I am not that person.

I give Tomb Raider a C.


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