Tomb Raider **
Dir: Roar Uthaug.
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas
The Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider movies may not have been high art or even the best amongst their kind, but they were fun (at least, the first one was). Jolie was clearly having a blast as Lara Croft, the titular tomb raider-cum-British-heiress-cum-adventuress and her marginally but effectively over-the-top persona went hand-in-hand with the over-the-top action and script and the well-executed stunts. Alicia Vikander’s Croft, however, is a bore and the movie is as deflated as the leading lady’s physical proportions (in line with the latest iteration of the character in her video game).
The plot is perfunctory (Lara takes off in search of a mysterious island in the hope of finding her lost father and save the world from falling prey to an evil corporation whose goals are never made entirely clear) and doesn’t really make sense. The action scenes and stunts are fairly standard (though Vikander gives it her all) or, perhaps, not even that. None of the characters have any real personality, not even Lara really and the bad guy is completely forgettable. Plus, the dialogue lacks any wit or precision and the banter (which is really a pre-requisite for such movies) is non-existent.
Vikander’s a good actress (and an Oscar-winning one at that) but she’s miscast here and the script and direction have done her no favours.
Cut to chase: This Tomb Raider reboot is a snooze fest.
The Commuter **
Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern
The Commuter is the fourth teaming of director Jaume Collet-Serra and star Liam Neeson (after Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night) but, unfortunately, just may be their weakest offering together. Its Hitchcockian set-up has ex-cop and insurance agent Michael MacCauley (Neeson) being recruited into a conspiracy which has him having to find and identify a fellow passenger on his daily evening ride on his New York commuter train. If he complies his financial troubles will be resolved but his involvement may also end up in the assassination of another person, albeit a stranger. Will MacCauley compromise his principles?
Collet-Serra handles the atmosphere well and Neeson can now walk through these roles in his sleep and yet deliver an effective performance. The action sequences are also well done. But the movie has such ridiculous and gaping plot holes that you stop taking the movie seriously after a while. If Neeson wants to continue as an action-hero he really needs to find better scripts.
Cut to chase: Too many plot holes derail this latest action thriller.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection