Alicia Vikander

REVIEW: Tomb Raider (2018)

When Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) goes in search of what happened to her father (Dominic West), who’s been missing (presumed dead) for seven years, she ends up on a mysterious island run by mercenaries led by Vogel (Walton Goggins).

Tomb Raider is the latest adaptation of the video game series of the same name. I’ve not played any of the Tomb Raider games since the late 1990s but from my understanding, this film is an adaptation of the rebooted video game franchise, wherein it’s more dark and gritty and grounded in reality.

We meet Lara Croft in this film as she’s striving to be independent and won’t except her father’s death. She’s a normal young woman (though admittedly one who is fitter than most) so seeing her be pushed to her emotional and physical limits as she struggles to discover the truth is great. Lara is capable but she’s also hurting, Vikander plays her complexities brilliantly. Throughout the film you could tell Vikander was doing the majority of her stunts and fights, adding to the excitement.

Once Lara arrives on the island the pace of the film slows down a bit, relying more on the intrigue of what Vogel’s looking for than fast-paced action. That’s not to say there aren’t any action sequences on the island. The sequence with the rusty plane is tense and thrilling, with Lara herself referring to the fact that everything seems to keep getting worse for her. This, amongst other reasons, makes Lara a character you root for.

The thing in the tomb that Vogel and his employer are looking for is a bit on the far-fetched but all the boobytraps are a joy to watch unfold. Also, Vogel’s motivations aren’t that clear and he and his men aren’t fleshed-out villains. There could’ve been any bad guy really, as this was Lara’s, and Vikander’s, movie and time to shine.

While it almost feels strange to hope for a franchise in this day and age, I really hope Tomb Raider is the start of a franchise. Alicia Vikander was a great Lara Croft and as Tomb Raider is Lara’s origin story, it would be great to see Vikander’s Lara go on a proper adventure of her own choosing. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Jason Bourne (2016)

jason bourne movie posterWhen Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) comes to him with more information on his past and on what the CIA has been doing over the past few years, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) comes out of the shadows to uncover hidden truths about himself, his past and the agency he once worked for.

The action sequences in Jason Bourne are shot really well. There’s the typical shaky-cam you come to expect from the Bourne franchise but you can still follow what’s happening and the opening motorbike chase is thrilling and exciting. However, when it comes to the story that’s what drags Jason Bourne down.

Unfortunately, the general plot is nothing we haven’t already seen before. CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) are the main duo who are trying to take down Bourne in one way or another, and there’s also the Asset (Vincent Cassel) who is the one out in the field chasing down Bourne. While all three give good performances, there’s nothing that stands out about what they are doing. We’ve seen the CIA trying to kill Bourne many times before, just like we’ve seen him looking into his past before. How many times can you have him not remember something about himself until someone gives him a clue and then he goes and punches and shoots people until he gets the truth?

Jason Bourne is a fast-paced film and the action never really stops. The final sequence in Las Vegas is extravagant but unlike previous car chases in the Bourne films, it feels more like an over the top Fast and Furious sequence rather than a more grounded one suited to the world of Bourne.

In my mind, The Bourne Ultimatum ended perfectly and, while the action sequences are still good, Jason Bourne adds nothing new to the character or to the franchise. 2/5.

REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

sM6KRdyCIA’s finest Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is forced to team up with the KGB’s best Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to stop a mysterious terrorist organisation who are attempting to build and sell a nuclear weapon.

The plot is relatively simple, infiltrate the bad guys and stop them, but that doesn’t stop there being some twists along the way – it’s also full of spy film cliches but it does them so well I can’t really complain. The simple plot might not work for some people but by having a simple spy plot, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can revel in its action pieces. Being set in the 1960’s it’s all very glamourous, the costumes and the set design are beautiful (the music is also great) and by being in the 1960’s it allowed to be more tongue in cheek and fun compared to other spy films.

The action scenes are great, the boat chase, the opening sequence with the car chase, the shoot outs all are very slick and stylish and the use of split screens as the action is happening is both a refreshing take on the action and makes it more fun and interesting.

The chemistry between Cavill and Hammer is what really sells these two characters and their antagonistic relationship that slowly becomes something like a grudging respect. Cavil is great as the thief turned spy, full of charm but is also rather cocky while Hammer is full of controlled rage that isn’t always so controlled. The bounce off each other wonderfully and also with Gabby (Alicia Vikander) the asset Solo and Kuryakin use to make contact with the terrorists. Gabby is really a part of the main trio and is just as smart and capable as the two men.

The supporting cast is great too, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) is the mastermind of the villainous organisation and is quite happy to use her beauty to get what she wants and to dupe men into thinking they know more than they do. Waverly (Hugh Grant) is kind of smarmy and the sort of guy who knows everything – or at least pretends to.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a lot of fun but the main enjoyment comes from the chemistry between the three leads. For once I’ll say, I really would quite like a sequel. 4/5.