A bigger world, higher stakes, and an unexpected spin on Lara Croft’s character make Shadow of the Tomb Raider the most ambitious of the modern trilogy. There’s a lot going on here, but it manages to keep most of its balls in the air throughout its 25-odd-hour running time. As both a rollicking, horror-kissed action-adventure and an introspective story about obsession and family, Shadow of the Tomb Raider works as a powerful finale to this particular chapter of Lara’s history.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider tells a great story that continues the series’ tradition of high-concept, Indiana Jones-style mumbo jumbo. This time it’s centered around an impending apocalypse and the search for the ancient item that can prevent it that propels Lara through the dark guts of South America. Moments of big, blockbuster-style scripted action return; skin-of-your-teeth action sequences that hurtle Lara across crumbling earth and bullet-peppered buildings, and feel like wonderfully orchestrated roller-coaster rides. It’s a ton of fun.
Beneath that, though, the nature of obsession is once again the well-crafted underlying theme. It’s Lara who is obsessed this time, of course, and while the first act suggests a descent into narcissism (which could get tedious across 25 hours), her character is handled with a lighter touch. Lara isn’t so much narcissistic as awkward and introverted, only really comfortable when alone in her dangerous element. It’s a surprising and delicately-told development for the character and adds a shade of warm humanity that was not there in 2013’s Tomb Raider or 2015’s Rise of The Tomb Raider (and certainly not in this year’s dud of a film adaptation).