Monday, March 26, 2018

The new Roar Uthaug/Alicia Vikander TOMB RAIDER offers slick, fast, entertaining fun

Few mainstream movies of late have so thoroughly divided critics, if not so much audiences, as has the new version of TOMB RAIDER. According to Rotten Tomatoes (yes, a notoriously unreliable site), the good/bad vote comes in at 50/50. But, of course if RT allowed what used to be known as a mixed review (which many reviews tend to be), rather than one that must be rated either all good or all bad, this would change everything.

The first thing to be said about this latest, newest version of the original Angelina Jolie two-movie "franchise" is that Alicia Vikander, shown above, together with the movie that surrounds her, is in every way the better Lara Croft: leaner, meaner, stronger, more believable, a lot less bloated and a lot more fun.

The film's director, Roar Uthaug (shown at left) was responsible three years ago for the much smaller, tighter and very exciting Tsunami-hits-Norway thriller, The Wave. Here, he is again able to marshal his skills to make another fast-paced film that moves halfway across the world, introduces a load of various characters, has a number of terrifically handled action/special effect sequences, and ends up being a surprisingly enjoyable adventure film with a heroine so skilled and obsessive that she would no doubt find a movement such as our current Me2 quite unnecessary. No man in his right mind would mess with this young woman.

In fact, unless I missed some small moment in the film, no man makes even a slight sexual advance on our Lara. They may want to kill her, and do try their level best, but as for verbal innuendos, unwanted "touching," let alone rape -- better forget it, guys.

Laura, in fact, is father-fixated, and while any decent psychiatrist would have a field day here, the movie simply sees this as loyalty and love. Dad disappeared a decade or so back but Lara refuses to believe he's dead and so, rather than signing some papers that would allow her, him, and his business connections to move on, she instead insists that she must somehow find the old codger.

Since Dad is played (often in flashback) by the wonderful Dominic West, above, you'll hope that Lara will indeed find him. Her nemesis (at least the one she's mot conscious of earliest on: there will be more  to come!) is played with savoir faire and sleaze by Walton Goggins (below, right).

The fellow who might come closest to anything approaching a bit of romance is the young boat captain played by Daniel Wu, below, who manages to be simultaneously sexy, charming, drunk and funny and helps the movie along enormously via both his acting and his action skills.

The sturdy if fairly prosaic screenplay comes via Geneva Robinson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons, and it proves serviceable to a fault. Mainly, it's the immaculate pacing and cinema sense of director Uthaug, his three editors (click and scroll down) and cinematographer George Richmond that make the movie such a fleet-footed and entertaining adventure.

In the rather starry supporting cast are no less than Kristin Scott Thomas (above) and Derek Jacobi, so, yes, folk -- you'll be getting a smidgen of "quality," too! Mostly though you'll be getting pretty much non-stop Vikander and plenty of action. That ought to be quite enough.

From Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldywyn-Mayer, the movie opened nationwide last week and should still be playing in a theater near you. Click here to find one.

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