or 22 years, Lara Croft has been a certified kickass heroine. Iconic for being a pioneer, the games were ground breaking for having a female protagonist and smashed expectations as it turned into a successful film franchise. Lara is a cool girl. Intelligent and inquisitive, physically and mentally strong, she has some emotional baggage that gives her an edge and has a mystique that entices men to be her friend and her lover. Earlier incarnations of the franchise portray her with a body only attainable if you’ve got money to burn. Baby in Dirty Dancing may have carried a watermelon but early pixelated Lara carried two on her chest whilst doing some amazingly impressive flips and fighting. But in a male dominated industry, Lara Croft was a beacon of hope.
The 2018 film is a crossover of the 2013 game reboot. Lara is still the young woman we all love but adapted for a modern time. Her iconic outfit is more practical (you don’t see Indiana Jones running around in shorts do you?). It’s an origin story that sets a new precedent for the character whilst still maintaining her roots.
At the start of the film she’s independent but struggling. Not wanting to admit to her father’s legacy, she works for a Deliveroo type service that can’t pay her most probably stupidly expensive London rent and trains at some kind of martial arts gym. The first act set’s key points in the plot up almost too nicely as it’s desperate to detach itself from her being a Mary Sue. She trains and has an amazingly sculpted body, (Vikander trained for 4 months prior to the role). She practiced archery as a child and had access to artefacts and puzzles. We never doubt her ability and it’s more a coming of age story about her failing and realizing her own potential than anything else.
So #AliciaVikander was brilliant as Lara Croft - she portrayed a good balance of recklessness and complexity. @TombRaiderMovie felt like you were experiencing the full-throttle energy of the game. pic.twitter.com/E0YpnCtFJ0— Cami (@Cami72960056) March 21, 2018
After reluctantly deciding to bask herself in her wealth she discovers a clue that all might not be as it seems. She learns of her father’s ambitious mission to stop an evil corporation from finding the tomb of Himiko, the Queen of Yamatai who has power over life and death. Still wanting to connect to her missing father, she travels to Hong Kong to fill in the missing gaps. With the help of Lu Ren, a boat owner whose father is connected to Lord Croft she lands shipwrecked on the mysterious island of Yamatai. Held captive by the films villain Mathias Vogel, he reveals he killed her father. She escapes and the serious action shots are deployed. The sequence in the river and holding on to the shipwrecked plane are monstrously epic. It’s got the fantasy of playing the games but the realisticness of actuality through Vikanders performance. You can feel the complexity of fear and determination throughout her portrayal.
The biggest spoiler that doesn’t really feel like a twist is that she finds her father living in a cave like a modern day Flintstone. It’s not a shock because it’s seemed like the only option to give Lara another layer of grit. The third act is where the character and legacy of Lara Croft is presented in all her glory. The tomb sequences is Lara at her most infallible. It’s got all of the Indiana Jones tropes you could ask for, spikes appearing from the floor, a colour puzzle that causes the floor to vanish and a sarcophagus. If a boulder appeared, making her to run for her life, it would have been almost too ironic.
The film ends with a clear set up for a sequel but left me feeling like I didn’t watch the film at all. I’m not bothered that I have no idea who Trinity are, I just came for the action. Vikander does a fantastic job in the role and reminds us that she’s a different kind of Croft. She plays into the girl next door and gives Lara the emotional depth she deserves. It’s a film I wished a younger self had had the opportunity to enjoy.