'Tomb Raider' review: Upgrading the franchise
It was bound to happen.
Near the end of the film, a man finally gets a climactic kick in the balls, which eventually becomes the final nail in his literal coffin, rendering him semi-paralyzed to defend himself any further.
Metaphoric kick in the balls
Roar Uthaug's rebooted Tomb Raider is in fact a metaphoric kick in the balls especially if compared to its Angelina Jolie-led predecessors. It is grittier and more grounded on what women aspire to look like rather than what men aspire their women to look like.
It features a Lara Croft, played by Alicia Vikander, who looks less like a Sports Illustrated model and more like a woman who really is into sports. In fact, the first time we see the film's heroine, she is battling a female boxer, getting bruised and battered. She loses the bout, in a subtle statement that this Lara Croft isn't the best in everything. She is reckless and irresponsible. She is relatable, or at the very least less the unachievable action hero that she was purported to be under the dainty hands and bloated breasts of Jolie. (LOOK: Alicia Vikander suits up as Lara Croft for 'Tomb Raider' reboot)
The adventure she is bound to take, however, is as far from relatable as possible. In search of her absentee father (Dominic West), she finds herself in an uninhabited island off the coast of Japan in search of the tomb of an ancient empress who has been demonized by history. Again, the film makes a statement about powerful women and how the world inevitably sees them as devious, evil or controlling.
There, Lara Croft battles both nature and men in an effort to survive literally against all odds. All she has in her arsenal are the archery lessons she had when she was young and her experience as a delivery biker in the crowded and rowdy streets and alleyways of London.
Tomb Raider has an interesting proposition.
All the men in Lara Croft's adventure are liabilities. Perhaps the most helpful of them all is the drunken sailor (Daniel Wu) she meets in Hong Kong. However, even he is rendered into an ironic damsel in distress, a man who would later on require a woman's resolve and courage to get freed from the hands of his captors. Lara Croft's father is an indecisive mess. The film's villain (Walton Goggins), on the other hand, is subservient to the whims of his employers.
The film has no romantic angles. It has no threads that would require its heroine to rely on the men around him. It aspires to be the female-led action film that doesn't fall for the typical tropes that confounded the two Tomb Raider films before it.
Sadly, Uthaug is tasked with sustaining an entire film with only a sliver of a story, which the film belabors to the point of long-windedness. Most of the action scenes are properly staged, and the film's foray into literal tomb raiding is quite filled with tension. However, the film stalls when it decides to take a breather and focus on the awkward sentimentality between daughter and father.
Neverthless, this Tomb Raider is a worthy effort. It may not be as indelible a kick in the balls as it could have been, but it is a good enough start. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass. Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.