Tomb Raider movie cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu
Tomb Raider movie director: Roar Uthaug
Tomb Raider movie rating: One star
“It’s a change in atmospheric pressure,” nods main villain Vogel (Goggins) wisely, and we sigh in relief.
In a film filled with a strange queen, mystical powers, Devil’s Sea, fox hunt, tomb, puzzles, coloured stones, arrows, manors, crypts, genocide, medallions, a giant militant organisation, and one instance of pure British “marmalization”, this is the one sentence that makes sense from beginning to the end. Even if Lara Croft (Vikander) and company are standing at the time inside an ancient cave, which they have forced open, and setting off flares.
What that might mean for their persons when combined with the sudden burst of air isn’t something that perhaps concerns Lara at least. Rarely has an actress gone through more physical battering, even if to establish herself as an action figure. It’s hard not to feel for that very sensitive face and that delicately lean frame, which though — surprise, surprise — emerges none the worse for wear. And that’s counting being hit by a car when still in her non-Tomb Raider avatar, being dashed against a reef in a boat wreck, being hit and shot by Vogel’s henchmen, being forced down a gushing river and waterfall, being thrown down a rusted airplane hanging in mid-air, being gored in the abdomen by a discarded piece of metal, being stitched to shape with a much-used needle and without anaesthesia, and being almost buried alive in a collapsing mountain of stones, etc etc.
When a woman has taken so much upon herself to do, in the giant shadow cast by Angelina Jolie’s two Lara Croft films, what are the men to do? In this case, they hold up the rear uncomplainingly. It helps that they include one Chinese (okay, okay, Hong Kong), and sundry Chinese or Japanese, who helpfully don’t need to talk but to just fill up the frame for the rescue to look good. The only talking Chinese is played by Wu, actually an American actor of Chinese origin, but should do the trick for the Chinese market.
Vogel, presumably American, has a similar, unnamed army of gunmen, who blindingly follow his orders, including in the face of a threat posed by a supernatural being. There is also Lara’s father Richard (played by West), who leads the admire-Lara pack. The two share many sepia frames together in the film, all of which involve Richard heading off for another adventure as Lara, at various ages, looks on. Before they part, the two put fingers to their lips and salute, a gesture that will remind you of Hunger Games.
And then ‘Patna’ pops up, on the side of ammunition-laden trunks and on suspicious supplies. Just as we wonder whether this English round-the-world adventure may have discovered the Bihar capital, Lara dashes our hopes. It’s a portmanteau, and you don’t even have to know ‘karakuri (go figure)’ to work that one out.