Getting into the nitty gritty details of the plot would be tedious, so the basics are these: Lara Croft’s father Richard disappears after trying to find the resting place of the mythical Queen Himiko, who was believed to control death. Afraid that if her tomb is found and opened by the wrong people it would be ruinous for mankind, he leaves for a mysterious island and never comes back.
Years later, Lara is still struggling with the loss of her father, so much so that she refuses to take the reigns of his corporation. She makes a living as a delivery girl, gets arrested for an accident during an ill-advised bike race, and boxes for fun. Being punched in the face repeatedly doesn’t seem like an enjoyable hobby to me, but you can’t argue with the physical results. She may be tiny, but she’s strong as hell. Look at those abs!
When she comes across her father’s old work and discovers where he was headed, Lara makes her way to Hong Kong and bribes a sailor named Lu Ren into taking her through notoriously dangerous waters to the island her father left to find. There’s lots of chemistry laden banter, and even though nothing romantic blooms between them in this movie, the potential is definitely there. I become a grandmother when I watch movies, I want to pair everyone off and see them happy. Even so, it’s nice to see a man and a woman interact in a movie without there being sexual overtones. The film’s villain, Mathias Vogel, is desperate to get to the tomb of Queen Himiko first and doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to go through to do it. Action ensues, heroics prevail, Lara hits said villain in the crotch during the big end battle scene. It’s awesome.
Thankfully, Tomb Raider doesn’t make Lara a typical Badass Warrior Goddess. She has admirable qualities like determination and bravery, but is also a bit of a mess. She’s angry and stubborn, and it makes her reckless. When she kills a man for the first time she screams and cries. Female characters are held to a ridiculous standard and are routinely criticized if they’re not everything they “should” be. It’s infuriating. We’re just people, and people try to do the right thing and make mistakes and try to fix them.
I’m awful at video games so watching this movie is the only way I’ll ever get to see the whole Tomb Raider story. I would have gotten stuck on an early level, given up, and eventually abandoned it forever. Watching Lara solve a puzzle in the tomb as the floor falls out from underneath everyone and dodge swinging spikes are things that I’d never get to see her do if I held the controller that determined her destiny.
Small details that warmed my heart:
- Lara gets to wear a pair of practical, sturdy pants.
- I find father/son bond stories overdone, so I loved seeing Richard Croft have such a close relationship with his daughter. He knows that she’s both smart and capable as hell. At one point he even tells her, “You’re worth ten of me.”
Female led action movies are rare, and we need more. Tomb Raider’s ending clearly sets up for sequels, and even though the opening weekend was a bit soft here in the US, it won the weekend at the worldwide box office and has made over $125 million so far. So it’s a waiting game for now to see whether we get more of Lara Croft being better than all the men around her. Hopefully her next adventure will be slightly less physically demanding, girl got beat. up. this go around. Maybe the next tomb to be raided will be in a spa…