I know next to nothing about video games. Usually I dread the movies that are made from them, because they’re not much fun to watch — they’re like watching someone else pay a video game, in fact.
What a pleasant surprise is “Tomb Raider.” Alicia Vikander is so enjoyable as Lara Croft, who this time has more of a background that includes a troubled past. She’s smart, she’s determined and she’s strong — all the things that will appeal to audiences, say, who enjoy Indiana Jones.
This is far more enjoyable than the Angelina Jolie film version from 2001. The more recent movie is based on the more recent incarnation of the game.
It starts out in contemporary London. Croft is a delivery bicyclist who works hard at boxing when she’s not on two wheels. I like the way the early urban chase scenes set up on her agility and grit. There’s a terrific bicycle chase that had me on the edge of my seat, and that’s before Croft’s troubles really start.
There’s an inheritance waiting for Croft, but she doesn’t want to admit that her father is dead, so she doesn’t sign the papers that will make her wealthy. She still believes that she will find her missing father, Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West, television’s “The Wire”) and, after finding clues that could help explain his disappearance, she sets off to a remote island. The sailor who takes her on her journey is Lu Ren (Daniel Wu, “Geostorm”) and the two discover that they have more in common than they ever imagined.
This isn’t an award-winning movie, but it’s an entertaining one. Roar Uthaug really keeps things moving, with tons of action and glorious sets. An especially engaging scene involves Croft being chased over a series of boats. Watch how carefully Uthaug sprinkles color to marvelous effect throughout this fast-moving sequence, It’s such a delight that I wanted a “rewind” option to see it again.
Vikander, as always, is likable as the fierce woman who would rather do anything except admit that she has lost her father. She’s just as effective in more quiet scenes as she is during an action sequence.
Wu is terrific. He steals every scene he’s in. If I had my way — are you listening, Hollywood? — I’d make a spinoff with Wu’s character as the star. He’s a wonderful actor who easily could carry a movie on his own.
Also, it’s fun to see Walton Goggins (television’s “The Shield”) as a madman a la “Apocalyse Now” who is a brutal slave driver.
It’s a fast-paced adventure that looks good on the big screen.