2 (out of 4)
Trying to do for its own franchise what worked a decade ago in rebooting Bond and Batman, Tomb Raider attempts to give us a rousing origin story for the British-speaking, ass-kicking digital sex symbol as she's known to celluloid.
Back in the early 2000's, there was no room to grow for Angelina Jolie, whose own goddess-like stature served her personification of the practically faultless pixelated heroine well. The cartoonish antics of her portrayal in the two Tomb Raider films fell in line with the schlocky production across the board. With this revamp, injecting so much all-consuming seriousness, hamstrung emotion and a measured manner of realism doesn't take this very straightforward Tomb Raider to much further artistic reaches than its laughably entertaining predecessors. There's no punching the shark, but the writing and characterization of this by-the-books 'gritty reboot' is so one-dimensional it makes you wish the film was much, much worse.
I’ll admit Norwegian director Roar Uthaug extracts a couple moments of tension in backtracking the usually plot-armored Croft to her vulnerable and unlearned roots. The film’s second half commits to nearly constant action, and some of it actually pretty exciting, particularly in an extensive waterfall sequence.
And while the supporting cast is all but pointless to mention, recent Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander does what she can with her lack of material, doing her best to humanize and sentimentalize Croft's character. However, while Jon Voight’s role as Papa Croft was reduced to flashbacks in the original film, this version puts Dominic West's Lord Croft in a major third act role, desperately straining to make something real out of the weak father-daughter relationship. After wasting enormous effort and screen time, the film still can’t spare us flashbacks or pointless, repetitive voice-over.
Most embarrassingly of all, the film’s last moments and vague plotting serve to set up a fresh franchise only to trip over itself right out the gate at the box office. Her legend will likely begin and end here, and no one will be too forlorn at that fact.
To keep it brief...