Move over Gal Gadot, there's a new Wonder Woman in town
Let me get one thing out of they way first; Alicia Vikander is perfect for the role and here's why. Other than the obvious beauty (but that counts for little), Vikander has a reserved strength in her vulnerability. The film introduces Croft in a boxing competition. Lara is outclassed in the match but she does not give up. She is fight with pure bravery, but at the same time seeking guidance and support from her corner (some bloke called Terry :-)). It is that which belies her petite stature. It was refreshing that we are introduce to the character with her finding strength in losing.
Next we are show a "Chase the tail" sequence on push bikes, and I can honestly say that was very nicely shoot. Always from a low angle and tracking Lara Croft so that we could make sense of her obstacles and environment. Vikander really sold that setup really well.
The Inner Lara
By now, the film has setup Lara as a woman of action and ingenuity. But the movie has yet to establish her roots which is very much with her missing father. There are plenty of flashbacks to when Lara was a child; these rather mechanically demonstrated their relationship.
Since Lara Croft's father, Richard Croft, has been missing for seven years, it has she has never been complete. She has a massive inheritance, but would rather delivery food on a bike; to her, signing the deeds to the fortune would mean she has given up on ever seeing her father ever again.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
When the adventure really starts, it takes Lara to Hong Kong to buy transportation to find her father some off the coast of Japan. Alicia Vikander's ability to play a fish out of water was very good here; I felt this was an opportunity to use more of Lara's cunning and intellect which Vikander oozes. However they felt the movie needed an action beat so there was a chase with some local muggers which was "needed", but could have been done better.
She finds passage to her mysterious destination by paying a drunk, gambling boat captain by the name of Lu Ren played by Daniel Wu (he sounds like a Street Fighter character to me).
Alicia Vikander and Daniel Wu gel well together. There is respect and collaboration from each person, with a hint of sexual tension from Lu Ren. BUT I AM so glad they don't follow this through. I absolutely cannot stand films where they fake a love interest that does not drive the story along at all. It wastes precious screen time, and often does not serve the narrative very well other than to place in a sex scene! Instead, Tomb Raider takes the mature approach; they have a mission, they like each other alot, that is it!
Wonder Woman VS Lara Croft
Now... I had to make this comparison because the amount of columns written about Wonder Woman's breakout movement for women was ridiculous.
I have many issues with the Wonder Woman film, mainly the fact she swoons over a man, who makes the ultimate sacrifice and not Wonder Woman herself!
I believe Gal Gadot is drop dead gorgeous, sassy and incredibly smart, but I felt the script failed her performance. Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft was every part the gutsy character I expected from the games. She could solve puzzles, decrypted clues and was able to track down her father without resorting to punching someone in the face.
Special mention must go to the bad guy, performed menacingly by Walton Goggins. His merciless attitude to finding the lost tomb was chilling. He was more than a match for Lara Croft.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. Critically it has not been reviewed kindly, but ignore those overpaid opinion makers and go watch it for yourself!
Alicia Vikander really has A List acting chops, and she holds this film together very well. The Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider films was representative of its time, but there is a new Lara Croft in town and I hope she rises again in the near future.