Tomb Raider: Strong Female Still Needing Rescued by Men

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Tomb Raider

Movie fans looking for something fronted by a strong, kick-ass female character will no doubt go into the reboot of TOMB RAIDER with high hopes. The video game character, Lara Croft, is resourceful, smart, cunning, and capable, so why would the movie version be any different?

When we first meet Lara (ALICIA VIKANDER, EX MACHINA), she is at the gym training in the ring. She has washboard abs of steel, but she's losing to her sparring partner. We also learn she's on the financial outs, making ends meet as a bicycle courier because she won't sign the papers declaring her missing father legally dead so she can claim her inheritance. However, when her aunt (KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS) finally does convince her to review her father's papers, Lara finds a secret room in the catacombs of the family estate, where her father's clandestine work awaits her. The papers show his latest project, and where it is he might have gone -- including explicit instructions to Lara to burn all of this research so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Instead, Lara follows her father's trail to a remote and unmapped island off Japan where a myth says a death queen was buried who killed with the touch of her hand. And the island is far from uninhabited. Lara and her captain, Lu Ren (DANIEL WU), are captured and put to work digging to locate this death queen by an organization that wants to control the supernatural and use it to subdue mankind. Their leader, Mathias Vogel (WALTON GOGGINS) knows Lara's father, and claims to have killed him.

However, when Lu Ren helps Lara escape, she finds that her father, Lord Richard Croft (DOMINIC WEST) is still alive, living in a remote cave, watching all of his misleads keep the crew busy at all the wrong places. Naturally, however, it wouldn't be an archeological adventure if people didn't dig in the right place, and then deal with all those marvelous, mechanical death traps that would be impossible to build with modern technology, but those are the fun bits. Although in this instance, those puzzles aren't nearly as interesting as the traps to be overcome in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, but that's beside the point.

What may not be the intent of the producers is that Lara ends up being a strong female character -- who consistently needs rescued by a man. Whether it's her father saving her from a wound or setting of a bomb at just the right time, or Lu Ren giving her cover fire, Lara rarely overcomes something without assistance. Perhaps that is forgiveable, as this is definitely a "becoming" story, with Lara learning the truth about her family legacy, ending with her picking up the signature weapons that became iconic through the TOMB RAIDER game play. Flaws aside, TOMB RAIDER does do a nice job in setting things up for future stories in the franchise.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0