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Alicia Vikander Saves 'Tomb Raider' From Becoming A Total Hot Mess

As a modern version of Lara Croft, the talented actress rescues the project from falling into pits of cheesiness
by Ash Mahinay | Mar 9, 2018
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Decent Tomb Raider, great Lara Croft.

Alicia Vikander's casting is a happy medium between bringing legit starpower and overshadowing the whole project with her name, but if you're thinking the best thing about Tomb Raider (2018) is, in fact, Alicia Vikander, then you're absolutely right. The opening fight scene immediately puts her glorious abs—and arms, and back, etc.—on full display (haters about how new Lara is too skinny can shut up) but, more importantly, Vikander also exudes that confident, naughty-but-nice demeanor we'd expect from a noblewoman-pretending-to-be-a-normie Lara Croft. This is important because Tomb Raider is basically an origin story—if you don't find yourself rooting for the heroine, the rest of the plot isn't gripping enough to make up for it.

This film reboot borrows liberally from the also-a-reboot 2013 video game of the same name: After the unsolved disappearance of her father, Richard Croft, Lara has turned her back on the family fortune and decided to find her own way in life. An accident during a bike courier race ends with her father's business partner Anna (Kristin Scott Thomas) bailing her out. Anna guilt trips her by claiming that if she still doesn't claim her inheritance, then everything her father worked for will be lost. After receiving a puzzle as part of his last will, Lara discovers her dad's secret stash and a very video gamey exposition dump: he was secretly searching for the tomb of Himiko, an ancient death-wielding Japanese empress, and was trying to do so ahead of the shady organization known as Trinity. She enlists the help of ship captain Lu Ren (a charmingly roguish Daniel Wu) to head to the island of Yamatai, his last know location, only to find a mercenary army led by Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins, obviously evil because only baddies wear neck scarves in the jungle right?) waiting when she gets there.

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Lara gets shipwrecked, falls off cliffs, bashes into trees, stabbed, and generally takes a superhuman beating. These are some of the best parts of the film—classic adventure movie moments where Alicia's acting chops sell the growth of young rebellious Lara into the hardened explorer. The grim moment where she is forced to make her first kill is a highlight even if she doesn't say anything except grunt and scream. Actually, it's when people start talking that Tomb Raider ventures into cheese territory the most, her screentime with dad (Dominic West) necessary to forward the plot, but also reminding us that not all video game material can inspire stellar writing.

In the end, Lara saves the world without being bailed out by a dude or unnecessarily developing a love interest along the way. Since it's 2018 you can't do a review without discussing objectification of women and all that and we're happy to report that the old sex symbol Lara is gone, replaced with a strong character for modern sensibilities. And with how Alicia owned the titular role in this film, we're excited for the next Tomb Raider to come out—because *SPOILERS*—that dual pistol scene in the trailer was totally sequel bait.

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