Film Review: Tomb Raider

Alicia Vikander delivers a lean Lara Croft in this action reboot.

NOVEMBER 25, 2020|BY MERRYN JOHNS

I wasn’t expecting lesbians in Tomb Raider, the new prequel to the 2001 and 2003 versions starring Angelina Jolie. And yet the film opens with an androgynous lesbian in a boxing ring putting Lara Croft (played by a taut and toned Alicia Vikander) through her paces. The anonymous dyke even defeats our heroine with a headlock, but not before Lara realizes her limits and sets her sights on exceeding them. So thank you, unnamed lesbian character, for putting our protagonist on her path!

While this edgy, gritty reboot may offer less Lara Croft eye candy than our Angelina (Norwegian director Roar Uthaug seems immune to objectifying his female subjects), there are some welcome amendments to the Tomb Raider formula including the casting of Oscar-winner Vikander herself: she is no iconic plump-lipped bombshell in body-hugging fetishwear — not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

I personally miss Jolie’s iconic performance of a Lara that fit the end-of-the-millennium, post-lesbian chic vibe perfectly. But oh, how times have changed with (necessary) super-serious social media-driven feminism and the advancement of big screen special effects. This movie packs more punch and this Lara is dressed for rugged action and self-defence. She’s determined to find out how her father, Sir Richard Croft (played by Dominic West) died, and she refuses to inherit the family fortune or take a bubble bath until she does.

Cue old-fashioned stuff about a secret chamber, antique puzzles, enigmatic maps, a priceless amulet…and then the action sequences begin, such as Lara fighting to survive a gargantuan storm in the Devil Sea, and escaping from a rusty skeleton of an airplane perched over a plunging ravine via a tattered parachute.

Vikander is mesmerizing with her ridiculously toned abs and her soulful, expressive eyes. Watch her run, swim, scale rocks, and leap over chasms while panting, grimacing in pain, and grieving her father. She’s not so much a computer avatar as she is a young woman for the #MeToo protest generation who is battling the odds set by crazy or corrupt older folks. This heiress in denial refuses her fate and would rather stubbornly pursue her own instincts.

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