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Film / Tomb Raider (2018)

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"Lara, there was more to my life than boardrooms and business deals. There's an organization called Trinity, who’s looking to start a global genocide. You must stop them, Lara. Promise me."
Lord Richard Croft

Tomb Raider is a 2018 film based on the video game series of the same name. More specifically, it is a Live-Action Adaptation of the 2013 game, with some story elements also taken from Rise of the Tomb Raider. Norwegian director Roar Uthaug directed it, and Junkie XL composed the soundtrack.

It concerns Lara (Alicia Vikander), the fiercely independent daughter of missing billionaire and adventurer Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West), who is believed to be dead. With the help of sailor and indebted gambler Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), whose father's disappearance is linked to her father's, she decides to find him, which leads her to the uncharted Japanese isle of Yamatai, on which the mythical Queen Himiko, who was said to have powers over life and death, is buried. She then bumps into an expedition sent by the shadowy organisation called Trinity and led by Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins).

The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana. Hannah John-Kamen, Antonio Aakeel and Nick Frost appear in minor roles.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.

A sequel was in development, though suffered delays by the COVID-19 Pandemic and Vikander’s pregnancy and was later scrapped when MGM lost the rights to the IP in May 2022.

Tomb Raider contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Lara is of the "toned body" variant. She's been practicing sports (archery especially) but she has never really faced danger (beyond illegal bike races) or killed someone before going to the island, she probably never had to wield firearms before, and she's an average fighter. She holds her own very well, all in all.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The night before they are shipwrecked, Lara and Lu Ren share a quiet night at sea talking about her father.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: The poster for the film states that Alicia Vikander is Lara Croft.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: While the movie bases its setting and most of its plot on the 2013 game, it also borrows elements from its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider, namely the villainous group being named Trinity and Lara's Disappeared Dad serving as her motivation. Mathias is also recast from the leader of the Solarii brotherhood to a Trinity operative to fit this.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: While Trinity is mentioned in the first game, the group is formally introduced in Rise of the Tomb Raider.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Mathias in this version is much saner than his game counterpart. The only reason he's hellbent on trying to find Himiko's body is so that he could get home to his daughters as his employer at Trinity won't send people to retrieve him until he does so. He also doesn't go mad from the years stuck on the island and create a murder cult, unlike his game counterpart.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Surprisingly, Himiko herself counts. While she's the main villain in the 2013 game, the film depicts her as a queen who made a heroic sacrifice, having entombed herself on Yamatai to prevent the plague within her from infecting others.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Himiko is much less powerful compared to her video game counterpart: In the game, she is capable of creating powerful storms to prevent anyone from leaving the island. In this film, she's just a corpse carrying a deadly disease, and is actually harmless unless you decide to touch her. That said, Lara does encounter the same shipwrecking storm as the game and her father states that Himiko kept him from leaving the island.
    • Lara herself is arguably one. Although she goes from strength to strength throughout the film, she's somewhat more reliant on others for help; Lu Ren instigated the fight that allowed her to escape Mathias Vogel and Trinity, she tearfully tells her father she's injured and is barely able to stand when she finds him.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Despite being based on the 2013 Tomb Raider video game, Samantha "Sam" Nishimura is not present. This includes her plotline, where Samantha is a descendant of Yamatai and thus a worthy vessel for Himiko.
    • Lu Ren is seemingly a surrogate for Jonah as well.
    • In fact, every crew member of the Endurance other than Lara are absent in the movie.
    • The Stormguard, undead samurai guardians that serve Himiko as Elite Mooks don't make an appearance in the film, nor do the Oni.
    • Mathias Vogel is still the primary antagonist, but instead of leading the Solarii Brotherhood, he's now a part of Trinity.
    • The 2013 game's supernatural plot elements are entirely missing from the film, having been replaced with a completely mundane explanation for Himiko's powers instead.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Lara Croft is one, naturally. Her father is also one as well. Apparently it runs in the family.
  • Age Lift: Ana is considerably older than her video game counterpart who is in her 40s.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version contains a theme song by the female band "E-girls" titled "Dynamite Girl", fitting for Lara Croft's personality.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Lara is first seen in a sparring match at an MMA gym, showing her body to be a knot of muscle. Most of the film is showing her climbing and otherwise flexing that muscle.
  • Ancient Tomb: Himiko's tomb, obviously.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Pretty much everything about the Himiko virus. Even the fastest viruses (Ebola, West Nile, norovirus) take 12 hours to begin causing symptoms by contact (vs. the quicker ingestion). Even the fastest ingested viruses measure symptom formation in hours rather than seconds.
    • Plus viruses cannot survive for a long time inhabiting a corpse. All mummies of that age found with evidence of having died of disease, the discovered bacteria/viruses have been so far degraded as to be useless.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: The film features a number of characters successfully use grappling choke holds to win fights, but they never once do so while using their legs to control their opponent's lower body, which is almost always essential in preventing a trained opponent from escaping. In one scene, Lara chokes a much larger mercenary using nothing but her slight body weight to keep him in the choke, so in reality he could easily just stand up.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • In a surprising departure from the games, Sir Richard Croft is still alive and plays a major role in the film along with Lara. He also undergoes an Adaptational Badass when it is revealed that after escaping from Mathias Vogel, he had been leaving fake trails to trick Vogel into dead ends for seven years until Lara finds him, and teams up with his daughter in exploring the tomb itself and even partakes in the final gunfight before pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the plague in Himiko's body from leaving the island.
    • Trinity was only mentioned briefly in the 2013 game after collecting all GPS caches before playing a larger role in the sequel. Here, they serve as the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Largely averted, especially compared to the Angelina Jolie films. Especially once on the island you can see characters with sweat stains on their clothes. Lara herself does get banged up a lot over the course of the movie, suffering a number of visible scars with one particular puncture had her bleeding out. She also gets coated in a layer of dirt. But most of the scratches seem superficial, with only one carefully placed slash on her cheek that is mostly faded at the end of the film, and Vikander is still lovingly filmed.
  • Behind the Black: How in hell did the two dozen Yamatai survivors get this close to Mathias' evac helicopter without the pilots noticing them? They did have a lot of tree cover, so the pilots not noticing them from the air is reasonable and from there it would be easy to sneak up on the helicopter while it was on the ground.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: Lara is driven to tears after killing a mook sent to track her down.
  • Body Horror: The effects of Himiko's plague on the human body are quite graphical and definitely not pretty. Tainted Veins are the least of your worries when it hits you.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: The first theatrical poster features Lara standing with her back to the viewer and looking back over her shoulder. The problem is, it's clearly a rushed photoshop that makes her neck look anatomically impossible. Some people even offered a corrected version on social media.
  • Book Ends: In both the beginning and ending of the movie, Lara leaves her father's company, opening a box inside her father's secret office beneath her family crypt and visiting the same pawn shop in preparation for her next adventure.
  • Brick Joke: Lara says "At least we're still alive" to Lu Ren, to which he answers "No shit" when they're prisoners of Vogel's men. At the end, it's Lu Ren who says that they made it out alive, and Lara returns him a "No shit".
  • The Cameo: Nick Frost appears in two scenes as the Jerkass owner of the pawn shop Lara goes to.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Lara is introduced in the middle of an MMA match at a gym, during which her opponent puts her in a chokehold that she can't escape from. On the island, a mercenary ambushes her and puts her in a chokehold, but despite being exhausted and injured, her will to survive drives her to successfully fights him off.
    • Her primary source of income is a bike courier, and she gets involved in a prize race to show her athletic endurance and navigate obstacles.
    • Flashbacks show Lara practicing archery from a young age, which comes in handy when she eventually goes on the offensive against Mathias and his cronies.
    • Ren Lu is shown using a gun scaring off some thugs who try to rob Lara. It later turns out he's not a bad shot himself.
  • *Click* Hello: The pilots of Mathias' evac helicopter are greeted this way by the Yamatai survivors.
  • Continuity Reboot: It has no ties to the two Lara Croft: Tomb Raider films that starred Angelina Jolie as Lara.
  • Contrived Coincidence: When Lara finally assumes control of her father's company in the epilogue, she's given a long list of their subsidiaries. She leafs through the Doorstopper at random, casts a glance and, among the thousands of entries, instantly spots Padna Ltd., the company whose name she saw on some Trinity crates on Yamatai, which in turn clues her into Ana's involvement with the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The first thing we see of Lara is her getting utterly demolished in an MMA sparring match.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film was specifically made grittier and more realistic than the previous Tomb Raider films.
  • Dead Man Writing: Lara Croft's father leaves a camcorder for her in a hidden vault. When she uses it to play a message, his image says "Unfortunately, if you're watching this tape then it means that I must be dead".
  • Death Glare: After Richard calls Lara "sprout," Matthias mockingly does as well. Richard glares at him as if to say, "You don't call my daughter that!
  • Determinator: The thug kids really wanted Lara's bag that they chased her down to get it. Only to be scared of by Ren Lu with a gun.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lara Croft lost her father, Richard, when she was just a girl, and he's presumed dead. Later he turns out to be alive though.
  • Disney Villain Death: Played with for Mathias. He has the 'dramatic long fall' part covered, but his hard landing is shown, and he was as good as dead already even before he fell due to being infected with Himiko's killer plague.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Zigzagged, unfortunately. In a departure from established Tomb Raider tradition, this film's Lara doesn't even touch a gun of any sort at any point in the narrative despite having plenty of opportunities to pick up some badass boomsticks from the bad guys. The only thing she ever fires is her now-iconic bow. This makes it very jarring to suddenly see her purchase her previously iconic dual pistols in the epilogue, weapons she's never even hinted to have any proficiency with (and keep in mind that going Guns Akimbo with any degree of usefulness requires one hell of a lot of skill and training).
  • Doing In the Wizard: The game this movie is vaguely based on has an army of zombie samurai and an undead, storm-summoning witch queen. The movie just has a mundane (though potent) disease and death traps. Nothing even vaguely supernatural takes place.
  • Durable Deathtrap: As you might expect, the booby traps inside Himiko's tomb are fully functional despite being centuries old.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lara's first scenes in London serve to introduce her character, with her doing MMA, participating in extreme sports like an illegal bicycle chase through rush hour traffic and getting into trouble with the police for it, having an estranged relationship with her Disappeared Dad and refusing to take up the Croft heritage, preferring to make a name for herself.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mathias has a family he's desperate to return to, damn the consequences of whatever he has to do to do so.
  • Everyone Chasing You: Early in the film, Lara volunteers to be chased on a bicycle by others in a 'fox hunt' event, as she needs the money from the winnings to pay for her gym fees.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: One scene from the trailers has Lara handling a brown puzzle cube detailed with gold that looks worryingly like the Lament Configuration.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: How Himiko is portrayed in legend. In truth, she cared about her subjects so much she was willinglgy sealed away to prevent her "curse" from destroying them.
  • Groin Attack: Lara goes for a vicious one when she realizes she's outmatched by Mathias' weight and strength. Surprisingly, he completely ignores it and continues to lay the smackdown on her.
  • Handicapped Badass: Mathias is able to put up a good fight against Lara even after being shot in the hip.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • After being infected by Himiko's virus, Richard sets off an explosion that consumes everything in Himiko's tomb (including himself) in order to destroy the virus and bury any chance of anyone ever recovering it again.
    • Himiko decided to have herself entombed in order to protect the world from the lethal plague she carried. Too bad history omitted that particular part of her legend...
    • In the finale, Lara herself appears willing to pull one when she kicks out the ladder across the Chasm of Souls to prevent Mathias from leaving with Himiko's plague, cutting off her own escape route in the process. Thankfully, she gets out okay regardless.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In-Universe. History remembers Himiko as a murderous witch who ruled through Black Magic that racked up an enormous body count before her own generals eventually overthrew her. The truth is... a bit different.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Lara, in the final fight against Vogel, uses Himiko's infected severed finger that he had cut off against him by shoving it down his throat.
  • Hostile Weather: The weather around Yamatai makes travel difficult, as Yamatai is located in the Devil's Sea.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Like the games it was based on, inverted. Lara is wearing a tank top through most of the film and we occasionally see some fanservice angles of her body, but by and large she is wearing full-length pants rather than short shorts, the tank top does not show off her stomach and she gets realistically dirty and banged up over the course of the film.
  • Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: At the end, Lara returns to the pawn shop in order to buy back the pendant she sold there earlier in the film. While there, she spots a familiar-looking pistol, and decides, "I'll take two".
  • Iconic Item:
    • Lara's bow and arrows, as well as her ice axe. She later gets her signature pistols at the end of the film from a pawnshop.
    • Lara also has her journal, which used to belong to her father.
    • Lara has her iconic backpack with her when she travels to the island. Unfortunately, she is forced to leave it behind when escaping from Mathias.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Richard obviously had no further need of the Himiko-related documents, as evidenced by the fact that he was able to reach the island without them. If he'd just taken a few minutes to burn those documents himself, the entire movie could have been avoided. Instead, he sends his daughter on a short and convoluted treasure hunt to the place containing information about the place where he went to and never once stops to think that she might want to find out what happened to him. Also, barring the fact that the bad guys could have easily gotten into Queen Himiko's tomb by blasting their way in, there was absolutely no reason for Richard to appear at the entrance. This results in him getting held hostage and Lara being forced to open the tomb.
    • Lara during the ladder scene. Instead of flinging her pickaxe at the crippled Vogel or just pulling the rickety ladder he's using to escape, she throws down her only weapon and lunges across the gap ahead of Vogel on said ladder, which could have easily ended in her missing the jump and falling to her death. Worse yet, during the fight, Vogel picks up that same pickaxe that she threw down and nearly kills her with it and would have succeeded had Richard not blown the tomb with the explosive charges.
    • Vogel himself during the aforementioned scene, for not immediately killing Lara then and there and instead very slowly raising the axe to kill her, which costs him as the explosion caused by Richard's Heroic Sacrifice winds up distracting him.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Like in the 2013 game, Lara experiences this via snapped branch when using a WWII-era parachute to escape a fatal drop down a waterfall, although she survives. Later on, in Himiko's tomb, a mook is impaled by a metal spike after a pressure trap is triggered.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Especially noticeable when the Chinese prisoners led by Lu Ren escape under a hail of gunfire with only a couple of casualties.
  • Instant-Death Arrow: Lara's arrows must be dipped in some extremely potent toxin, seeing how every mook she hits drops dead on the spot regardless of where she actually hit them. A shot to the shoulder is all it takes to fell even the largest man instantly.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to the 2013 M-rated reboot, which this PG-13-rated movie is based upon.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The film ends with Ana Miller (as in Rise of the Tomb Raider) revealed as being a member of Trinity and the one providing orders to Mathias Vogel, with Trinity's front being a shell company owned by Croft Holdings.
  • Mexican Standoff: Mathias has Richard at gunpoint while Lara has her bow aimed at Mathias, before she decides to open the tomb.
  • Missing Mom: Lara's mother died long before the events of the film and was a motivator for her father's work into finding the supernatural.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Averted hard. Lara is extremely fit, but still relatively petite, and this often shows whenever she gets into a physical fight. At the beginning of the film she loses hard in an MMA sparring match against a higher weight class female opponent, and at the end when she fights Mathias, who doesn't seem like an exceptionally physical individual and who has a stab wound to the leg to boot, he still manages to have the upper hand against her for most of the fight due to his larger size.
  • Mythology Gag: The first trailer shows Lara acquiring her iconic silver 9x19mm Heckler & Koch USP Match pistols, which she used in multiple games and the previous movies. She doesn't use them in this film, but obtains them right before the credits roll, from the pawnshop she pawned her father's jade pendant to.
  • Multiple Identity IDs: While going through her father's research on Himiko, Lara discovers he has multiple passports from different countries, each with a different name, causing her to realize he was up to something possibly shady and/or dangerous.
  • The Needs of the Many: During the Mexican Standoff between Lara, Richard and Mathias, Richard tells Lara to let him die so that Mathias can't get access to the tomb.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A trailer contains a scene where Lara gets her iconic pair of guns. It's literally the last scene of the movie.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Not only does Lara defy her father's instructions to burn all of his Himiko-related documents, but she also takes them with her to Yamatai. This gives Mathias exactly what he needs to find the location of Himiko's tomb when the documents fall into his hands, something her father wanted to avoid.
    • She did it again in the finale after she accepts her inheritance and signs over control of Croft Holdings' company to Ana Miller, whom she figured out too late is a member of Trinity, and that by signing control of the company over to Ana, Trinity now has full access to whatever Richard is trying to hide from them.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Lara is introduced fighting (and badly losing) an MMA match, so her story actually starts with one. Her Final Battle against Mathias then subjects her to another, far worse one that naturally doesn't conform to any rules of sportsmanship.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Lu Ren at one point takes out an ordinary, unarmored mook perhaps 20 meters away with a direct hit from an assault rifle's underbarrel grenade launcher instead of just, you know, shooting him full of holes.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Old: Occurs with Richard Croft, because of the film's use of flashbacks (Dominic West portraying the younger and older Richard); also has shades of Absurdly Youthful Mother, due to the 19 year age difference between West and Alicia Vikander.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Lu Ren takes a gunshot wound to his left shoulder while helping Lara escape from the Trinity work camp. That would be a really serious injury in real life; but later in the film (likely no more than a few days in the story's timeline), he is able to run around the jungle and fire a machine gun with seemingly no ill effects from his wound.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Lara delivers one to Vogel before finishing him off.
    "You messed with the wrong family."
  • Rejecting the Inheritance: Lara refuses to sign the paper work allowing her to access her family fortune because it would require her to be tied to the day to day tasks of running her family's business interests, limiting her personal freedom and autonomy.
  • Sanity Slippage: Richard Croft mistakes Lara as being a hallucination, because he has seen her before during his seven-year exile, only for her to disappear eventually. This time, she doesn't.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The "hunters" chasing Lara through London on bikes in the prologue scatter like roaches when she gets distracted and crashes into a police cruiser of all things.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Queen Himiko was a terrifying creature with the power to spread death with just a touch. She was only defeated by her own generals who bound her and brought her to an uninhabited island and sealed her there, with traps and ciphers to prevent anyone from finding and releasing her. Zig-zagged when the truth is revealed that Himiko was the carrier of a deadly disease and was willingly sealed away to prevent its spread, making the virus the evil that was sealed instead.
  • Sequel Hook: The film ends with Lara continuing her father's work and hunting down Trinity.
  • Shipper on Deck: A young man at an Indian restaurant where Lara picks up deliveries clearly wants to ask her out but loses his nerve. After she leaves, his parents mock his cowardice.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The child of an archaeologist received clues that might led them to the whereabouts of their father and the legendary treasure they spent their life searching for. When they are reunited with their father, the latter berates them for deliberately handing the clues to the Big Bad which was what the father was trying to prevent in the first place. The gauntlet of traps leading to Himiko's tomb is also very reminiscent of the Grail Trials Indy had to pass.
    • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune: The body of centuries-old mummy contains an ancient virus that is capable of infecting anyone in a matter of seconds, turning them hostile. It is this reason why the mummy was contained within an uncharted island to contain the virus. The antagonist attempts to bring back the virus in order to weaponize it.
  • Shown Their Work: Most adaptions tend to Hand Wave how Lara (a British national) came to carry two pistols (handguns are illegal in the UK). This one at least acknowledges the strict firearms laws by showing that she came by them through an illegal arms dealer.
  • Skilled, but Naive: About Lara, Alicia Vikander said, "She has all the fierce, tough, curious, intelligent traits, but we’ve stripped away all of her experience. She hasn’t gone on an adventure just yet."
  • Spared by the Adaptation Richard Croft is revealed to actually be alive unlike in the video games where he is dead. However this is subverted later on when he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to seal the temple up.
  • Spring-Loaded Corpse: Literally. Himiko's body is rigged to invoke this as one final scare for any would-be thieves or looters. The mechanism that does it is clearly seen afterwards.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Anyone affected by Himiko's plague seems to die at first from the horrific effects on the body, only to rise and attack whoever's in sight some minutes later.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Just like the video games, Lara wears a tank-top throughout the film.
  • Touch of Death: This turns out to be Himiko's true nature, as she carries a deadly plague in her body that turns anyone she touches into a mindless berserker.
  • Typhoid Mary: The source of Himiko's Touch of Death, as described above, was a deadly plague she transmitted by touch but was immune to herself.
  • We Are Everywhere: Vogel says this verbatim to Lara on how vast Trinity is. The final scene has her finding a huge map hinting he may be right.
  • Worst Aid: Just like in the 2013 game, Lara treats a foreign object that pierced her abdomen by pulling it out of the wound without any immediate treatment against infection or exsanguination. She gets patched up, eventually, but she had no way of knowing that when she did it.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Immediately after managing to avoid going over a waterfall, Lara now has to deal with finding a way to get off the wreckage of an airplane precariously situated over a great height.
    Lara: Really?!