Coming from the world of theater, writer/director Cory Finley has made a masterful first film. His dark comedy/thriller is utterly enthralling, as much for what it doesn’t show as what it does. The story, concerning two teen girls (Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy) plotting to kill a ruthless stepdad, could have been another potboiler, like so many thrillers that have tread similar terrain. Instead, Finley creates a calm, contemplative film, full of tension and thrills done in disquieting, economical ways. More is said with looks than words, and all the violence happens off screen. It’s a sly work, both theatrical and sensitive in its portrayal of privilege and murder.
The rebooting of “Tomb Raider” should have yielded something better than this decent, but uninspired attempt. It had brilliant source material to adapt from with the successful 2013 relaunch of the Lara Croft video game, and Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander gives the part her all as a gritty and intense lead. Unfortunately, the script is tonally all over the map and derives too heavily from films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Mummy.” And while its action sequences are well-shot and edited with precision, this movie has an underwritten villain, too many flashbacks, and an underwhelming tomb excavation. If there is to be a sequel, the filmmakers will need to dig deeper to ensure something great.