Born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1988, Alicia Amanda Vikander is the daughter of a stage actress and a psychiatrist. She started acting at the age of seven by starring in a stage production of Kristina från Duvemåla at The Göteborg Opera. From there she would go on to perform in many other notable musicals up until she fell in love with ballet several years later. After her passion began to rise, her family moved to Stockholm so that she could pursue a career as a principal dancer. Unfortunately many injuries hindered her success and she soon realized her true passion in life was acting. She began with several small roles in Swedish short films and TV shows up until she began landing significant parts in major Hollywood films such as: A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina, and her breakout performance in 2014’s Ex Machina. Now she has taken her talents and applied them to the role of Lara Croft in the latest film adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider franchise.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is just a simple bike messenger. She likes her independence and wants to distance herself from her family’s fortune and her father’s disappearance several years prior. One day she has an unfortunate run in with police and her family friend named Ana (Kristin Scott Thomas) shows up to bail her out. After Lara is let go, Ana convinces her to finally sign the documents pertaining to her inheritance. While doing so, she uncovers information that may lead to her father’s last known ware bouts. Equipped with a scarce amount of money and assistance, Lara decides to undergo the journey of finding out exactly what happened to her father.
When I initially saw a trailer for the film, I was a bit skeptical. I’m a big fan of the Angelina Jolie films and I was scared that this iteration on the character would be a huge step backwards. Much to my delight, I was dead wrong. This version is a much more grounded, much more realistic take on Lara akin to the more recent video games. She isn’t much of a fighter, she doesn’t have advanced weapons training, and she’s not a skilled archeologist. Instead she’s a motivated woman who loves puzzles and gets into extreme situations in which she must overcome insane obstacles. This more true-to-life and vulnerable take on the character resonated much more with me to the point of actually cringing every time she got hurt.
While I do enjoy Jolie’s super sassy attitude, the more subdued yet charismatic way in which Vikander plays the role is a breath of fresh air in comparison. She has moments of comic relief but the majority of the time she grits her teeth and gives the situation her undivided attention. Another notable performance is that of Walton Goggins who plays the main antagonist Mathias Vogel. He isn’t over-the-top or scary but he is a very menacing presence who feels like a powder keg ready to explode at any moment.
The true highlight of the film is the action. It’s insanely gritty, harrowing, and visceral. Every gunshot, every punch, every fall completely envelops your senses with unnerving realism in both an auditory and visual sense. It’s immensely noticeable every moment Lara must break away from an unfortunate series of narrow escapes. That realism had my heart racing time after time in a way that few films can do nowadays.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the film, there were a few weak spots that could have been slightly improved. One for example is character development. I would have enjoyed an extra scene or two that increased my knowledge of Mathias’ background. He’s an interesting villain but not as memorable as I would have liked. Also, I would have loved more time with Lara and her father in order to flesh out exactly what their relationship was like. You get quite a bit through flashbacks but not enough to completely cement a true bond between the two of them. Nevertheless, the positive aspects of the film significantly outweigh the negative ones and that is why Tomb Raider is definitely worth seeing.
About Tomb Raider
Synopsis: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.
Director: Roar Uthaug
Writers: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, Evan Daugherty
Stars: Alicia Vikander, Walton Goggins, Dominic West, Daniel Wu
Runtime: 1 Hour, 58 Minutes