London has never looked like a better location for a twee romantic comedy than it does at the start of the rebooted Tomb Raider, a capable origin story and actioner with no sense of humour or wonder.
Kickboxing at a local gym and bantering with her bicycle courier co-workers, Lara Croft is slumming it harder than most. All she has to do is sign some documents declaring her missing father (Dominic West) dead and she inherits a fortune.
Although he’s been gone for seven years, Lara (Alicia Vikander) refuses to accept that Richard Croft – superrich business man, adventurer and aristocrat – is no more. Flashbacks show the Crofts in sappier times, where West calls Lara by the nickname “Sprout”.
Swede Alicia Vikander is a good actress, whatever those three crazy Michael Fassbender stans say. She makes a tomboyish Lara, whose defining characteristic is bullheaded stubbornness. Having beaten the likes of Daisy Ridley for the role, she’s convincingly English enough to be to the (Croft) manor born.
While participating in a reckless bike chase through our capital’s streets, Lara crashes into a police patrol car. Ana Miller (Kristin Scott Thomas), an associate at Croft’s company, pops up to post bail and warn Lara that if she doesn’t claim her inheritance her father’s estate will be sold off.
I must check and see if Scott Thomas did any interviews to promote this artistic endeavour, because I just live for her rants about life as an ageing actress. The still-beautiful KST grits her teeth at the sight of Vikander’s dewy prettiness, and wishes the fool had been crunched under those car wheels.
Oblivious to the KST death rays, Lara stumps into swanky Croft HQ to meet lawyer Derek Jacobi. Later she discovers her father’s secret office and a recorded message detailing his research into Himiko, a mythical Japanese queen known as “the mother of death”. Croft wanted Lara to destroy his work, in case it ended up in the wrong hands.
Ignoring his apparent last wishes, Lara heads east hot on the trail of her dad’s final destination. She gets captured by mercenaries funded by a shadowy organisation called Trinity, who definitely qualify as the wrong hands. They’d been failing at locating Himiko’s resting place when Lara turned up with Croft’s map, which pinpoints the exact spot the tomb is hidden.
Earlier in the movie we saw a waifish Ruby Rose lookalike easily put Lara in a headlock. Now her survival instinct really kicks in, as she overpowers the hired toughs in hand-to-hand combat, before discovering Croft senior living as a Tom Hanks castaway. He mutters, “Ignore it, it’s not real, it’ll go away, it always does,” when Lara appears, which is what my dad always says when he sees me.
Seconds later Lara’s Pa is back to normal. So did Sprout go to Oxford, or Cambridge? Look, Lord Sprout, this girl keeps landing on her thick skull, and the only reason there’s no damage is because she’s so dense.
Sigh. Croft performs amateur surgery on an injured Sprout and finally – it’s time to raid some tombs! Or rather, stop other people from raiding them as the Trinity morons take on Himiko.
In what could be the start of an exciting-sounding premise (shame it comes at the end), Lara discovers that Trinity is actually a subsidiary of Croft Holdings, and a front for a secret organisation hunting for mysterious artifacts to control humanity. If Scott Thomas is in on it, believe me, they’ll be looking for the elixir of eternal youth 24/7. I know how she ticks.