By Richard Roeper

Chicago Sun-Times

“Tomb Raider”

118 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action and for some language

I lost count of how many times Alicia Vikander’s Lara Croft found herself hanging on for dear life in this latest attempt to mine big-screen gold from the long-running and hugely successful video game series.

When Lara isn’t desperately trying not to fall to a certain death, she’s often involved in quick-cut, MMA-style, hand-to-hand combat sequences — or she’s on the run.

There’s no shortage of special effects-laden action in “Tomb Raider,” but the special effects aren’t all that special. At one point, the scenery behind Lara practically screams GREEN SCREEN, and many of these sequences feel like time-wasters designed to distract us from the hokey, dopey, paper-thin plot.

This is a one-hour, 58-minute movie that feels as if it were filmed from a 40-page screenplay.

Not that this is Vikander’s fault, any more than the unintentionally (for the most part) campy 2001 “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” was Angelina Jolie’s responsibility.

Whereas the 2001 edition of “Tomb Raider” had the crazy (albeit ill-conceived) notion of becoming a live-action version of the video game, with Jolie as the brilliant, wealthy, buxom, globe-trotting Lara, this is a relatively grounded and stripped-down origins story.

When we meet the spunky and instantly likable Lara, she’s struggling to make ends meet in East London even though she’s the heir to her father Richard’s multibillion-dollar fortune. Dad’s been missing for seven years and is presumed dead, but despite constant prodding from Lara’s former legal guardian (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lara doesn’t want to sign the papers giving her control of the family dynasty because that would mean she’s given up all hope of finding her father.

Ah, but just when Lara is finally ready to sign those papers, THAT’S when she finds a clue from her father (Dominic West), and that leads to another clue, which leads to one of those scenes where someone pushes “Play” on an old video recording, and someone appears onscreen and says, “If you’re seeing this, that means I’m dead ...”

Anyway. Lara isn’t entirely convinced her father is dead, so she embarks on a journey to a mysterious island somewhere off the coast of Japan — an island that could hold the long-lost Tomb of Himiko, which (like just about all long-lost tombs in the movies) should stay lost, for if it is unearthed, the fate of the entire world could be at stake!

Something like that.

Daniel Wu is charming, funny and underused as Lu Ren, the booze-soaked captain of a dilapidated vessel who agrees to take Lara to the island because HIS father went missing seven years after agreeing to take Lara’s father to the island.

The fantastic character actor Walton Goggins (far less interesting here than he’s been in such fare as “The Hateful Eight” and on the TV series “Justified”) plays Vogel, the ruthless madman who has been hired by an all-powerful and evil corporation to find the tomb and bring it back to civilization.

Then it’s time for some “Indiana Jones” knockoff-style adventure, with Lara quickly morphing into an unstoppable action hero, capable of surviving multiple beatings and a number of falls from great heights (not to mention a nasty wound to the abdomen), all the while showing remarkable prowess as an archer and MMA fighter, and genius-level acumen when it comes to solving complex riddles and deciphering cave paintings.

Vikander is in nearly every scene in the movie, and she’s absolutely terrific. Endearing and funny in the early scenes in London, easy to root for as she dives into the cartoon of an adventure.

Of course “Tomb Raider” sets the table for future adventures, but if the future chapters are to be this silly and disposable, one hopes Vikander moves on as quickly from this film as I did as a viewer.

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