Alicia Vikander vs Angelina Jolie: A Lara Croft Tomatometer Face-Off

Who was best prepped to play Lara Croft? We crunch their pre-Tomb Raider numbers.

by | March 15, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by (c) Paramount / (c) Warner Bros.)

Angelina Jolie was coming off her Best Supporting Actress Oscar victory for Girl, Interrupted when she nabbed the role of video-gamedom’s most famous female adventurer in 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Alicia Vikander, 29, had just won her own Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Danish Girl when she decided to take on the same role for the Tomb Raider reboot, which opens this week, 17 years later. The former was a bright young star who’d impressed playing a string of interesting and strong female characters, while the latter… well, you get the picture: There are more similarities between these two Laras than an interest in archeology.

While the Tomatometer score for the new Tomb Raider will be the ultimate arbiter of who made the best Lara Croft (it will have to beat 20% to best Jolie’s first outing), there are some numbers we can crunch on both actresses to decide who was best prepped to step into the character’s well-worn combat boots from the outset. Here we break down which Lara was most ready to go a-raiding.

Angelina Jolie

(Photo by (c) Paramount)

Average Tomatometer score (prior to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider): 43.7%
Highest Tomatometer score: Gia (92%)
Lowest Tomatometer score: Original Sin (12%)

Jolie had an Oscar on her mantelpiece by the time she landed the Lara Croft role, but only two Fresh films among the nine pre-Tomb Raider movies that we have Tomatometer scores for — and one of those, Playing By Heart, only just scraped into the red at 60%.  The other was Gia, the acclaimed HBO movie about a drug-addicted supermodel whose life is cut short by AIDS. In that movie, and even in less acclaimed fare, like the kinda-hip-for-its-time, Hackers, Jolie showed grit and star power.

Action highlight: Gone in 60 Seconds (24%)
Critics lamented that Jolie wasn’t given much else to do but stand around aimless as bartender and mechanic Sara “Sway” Wayland in this Rotten remake. While she would later go on to carve a lane out for herself in the world of action films (in Mr. & Mrs. SmithSalt, and the Certified Fresh Wanted), Jolie had not yet established her action bona fides when she took on Lara Croft.

Alicia Vikander

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Average Tomatometer score (prior to Lara Croft): 50.38%
Highest Tomatometer score: Ex Machina 92%
Lowest Tomatometer score: Tulip Fever 9%

If it wasn’t for the WTF fantasy, Seventh Son (a 12% turkey that somehow managed to also ensnare Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore), and the woeful Weinstein-produced Oscar bait, Tulip Fever, Swedish-born Vikander’s average Tomatometer score would be a good deal higher than that 50.38%. The Oscar-winner may be known for her period fare — think Anna Karenina (64%), Testament of Youth (Certified Fresh 83%), and The Light Between Ocean(59%) — but she’s also shown scene-stealing weirdness as robot Ava in Ex Machina and Audrey Hepburn charm in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (66%). We call that “range”.

Action highlights: Son of a Gun (63%) and Jason Bourne (55%)
Range is all well and good, but the big question is: Can Vikander kick ass and, you know, raid tombs? Vikander was a vampish highlight of the rather slight Son of a Gun and was the terse tracker of Jason Bourne in the latest, and least, of the Bourne movies. So, she has chops when it comes to playing a supporting role in the action. But can she take the lead?

And the best Lara Croft is…

The proof is the tomato-y pudding, as they say. So far, this year’s Tomb Raider is sitting at 51%, well above the 20% of Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. And critics are lauding Vikander for her re-interpretation of the character. But Jolie was never the thing that was wrong with the original two Tomb Raider films — in fact, according to most critics, she was the only thing those movies got right: Commanding, charismatic and bad-ass, she redefined the character and our image of her even as she was swinging and climbing and kicking her way through mediocre films. Will Vikander be able to redefine that image again? Come back to us in 17 years, and we will let you know.