Vikander is a treasure in 'Tomb Raider'

AP
In "Tomb Raider," Alicia Vikander takes a lot of beatings. 
AP

In “Tomb Raider,” Alicia Vikander takes a lot of beatings. She is punched in the face, stomach, thrown against rocks, sent careening through a forest, hit by a car, left in an impossible one-handed dead hang at least four times and is choked by both men and women alike.

And she pulls it off! The movie itself is another, more complicated story, but this video game adaptation is better than most with set pieces that are both fun and ridiculous that seem to approximate the experience of playing a video game.

After two pretty lousy attempts, and a lot of terrible video game adaptations on the way, Hollywood has resurrected “Tomb Raider” and plucked the most recent supporting actress Oscar winner the production could get their hands on. And, Vikander has, exactly two years after her Academy Award win for an emotional drama, stepped into Lara Croft’s combat boots and decided to raid some tombs.

Actors Alicia Vikander and Daniel Wu in the resurrected film “Tomb Raider.”

Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Roar Uthaug (“The Wave”), Lara is introduced getting her butt kicked in a boxing ring. The gym membership that gives her access to these low-rent Rocky-esque facilities is one she can’t afford to pay. She is scrappy and barely getting by on her bike courier service paycheck. She also isn’t afraid to take on a challenge for a few hundred bucks, like, say, biking through the streets of London with a foxtail attached to her machine while two dozen guys try to catch her. She’s also not past seeing a random business man on the street, thinking that it is her long-lost and presumed dead father (Dominic West).

At the local police station, we learn the truth of Lara: This isn’t a working class girl at all; this is someone who grew up wealthier than most could imagine and whose inheritance won’t kick in until she signs some papers acknowledging that her father is dead. Just as she’s about to concede to her father’s deputy (Kristin Scott Thomas), she stumbles on a clue that sends her on a journey to find out what happened to her father on that remote island off the coast of Japan. He was looking for some ancient “death queen” named Himiko that we spend the next half of the film talking about and searching for.

Lara swings by Hong Kong first and gets the son of a man her father knew, Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) to join her on the adventure. One harrowing boat ride later and they’ve smashed into the island and found themselves in the possession of Vogel (Walton Goggins), a mercenary who is trying to get the mummified Himiko off the island.

That the production put her in cargo pants for the duration and not the Jolie short-shorts is perhaps a sign of progress too.

The film not-so-subtly borrows from a half dozen better films, but as it stands, “Tomb Raider” is an often fun and visually compelling action pic, that is also sometimes unintentionally silly, with a great actress leading the whole thing.


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