Lara Croft is really about the action set pieces. It has about six that where clearly in-mind when they were developing it and they rest was focused on connecting them together. So this movie’s quality should be determined by how much you care about the characters in the scenarios, how well do the connections from one to the other work and how engaging are said action set-pieces.
From what has been established in the other games and how she has been represented through advertisement Lara Croft is a cunning woman that is pretty much the female Indiana Jones in terms of her being a action star archeologist that finds herself in constantly escalating situations of peril. Her personality though? Well she’s cool, that’s pretty much it to be honest. That’s how she has been able to be sold in so many ways and be put into so many different scenarios over the years , her character is simple and you don’t need a deep complex character when you are controlling them in a video game cause you can project what you want onto them. But now that there’s a movie we need to deal with it. Alicia Vikander is one of the great young stars we have right now so she would seem like the right choice. She went through months of training to get into shape for the role and it shows a few times when she gets to expose her abs, but she also runs and climbs and generally traverses like a natural. I feel she’s a little too skinny to convincingly beat up these muscle bound dudes she goes up against but meh. But for the point of her personality she is more smiley and peppy that other interpretations, she cracks a few jokes and is more down-to-earth. She is also clearly very intelligent and driven, along the way she must present herself as heartfelt, bad-ass and vulnerable which Vikander is able to clearly convey with a few delicate expressions of the eyes.
The movie is filled with action sequences which range from chases to puzzles with deadlines to gunfight’s to fisticuffs. The goal of the movie and the scenes are to deliver a visceral experience so the camera shakes and the sound of fists hitting heads and bodies slamming is clear and feels hard. There are many shots where Lara is on the move (something she often is in the movie) and the camera is either behind or in-front of her, like the camera operator is along for the run. It creates a sense of engagement by making us feel the momentum of the running and the turbulent nature of traversing the area.
For reasons Walton Goggins plays Mathias Mogel, the villain of the movie. He has been on the island for seven years, unable to go home until he gets the treasure he’s been sent to retrieve. He has gone quietly mad, nothing too over-the-top but his eyes never blink and are very open, his voice wavers and there’s never any hesitation when he kills. It isn’t a great villain or a reinvention of the role but it does come with a little more control that we don’t usually get.
At the ending of the movie they force in a twist which isn’t even that clever and which is also a clear ploy to turn this into a franchise. The days of having standalone movies are not done but the days of having a standalone blockbuster do seem to be dead and buried, at least for now. Is is so bad to go to the theater, buy your ticket, take your seat, be entertained for ninety minutes to two hours and leave satisfied, not knowing that you will have to be back over a year later to see the story continue? Sequels have gotten better over the years but just because they are not longer the stake in the heart for the movie doesn’t mean that they are now a necessity. Well, at least the movie still works well enough on it’s own.
We seem to be getting a few movies that attempt to or at least put on the facade that they are witty plot twisters when they simply aren’t. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, clear story telling that does it’s job well. That was one of the reason why Kong: Skull Island got so much praise from me. One a technical, performance and adaptation level this movie is quite capable, go knowing that this is based on a video game so it is about making you feel like you’ve gone on a ride and you’ll leave having felt it.