Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Release Date: June 15th, 2001 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Simon West Actors: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig, Christopher Barrie, Leslie Phillips
ara Croft may be a tomb raider, but, inexplicably, she has highly advanced technology at her disposal (so advanced, in fact, that it’s nonexistent in the real world). Outrageous costs aside, the believability of the opening sequence, in which Croft battles a robot opponent along the lines of ED-209 (from “Robocop”), is so outlandish that it singlehandedly spoils all faithfulness to the video game franchise on which this movie is based. Plus, she destroys the automaton (as if she were Iron Man), which is even more unlikely and expensive. And then, she takes a nice long shower (a PG-13 affair, though it looks as if shot for the outtakes of “Barb Wire”).
But it’s all in a day’s routine for Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie), who resides in a considerable estate – a staggeringly colossal 83-room mansion that is all but uninhabited (why is there no staff?), save for butler Hillary (Chris Barrie), a man obviously molded from Batman’s Alfred. Because of Lara’s nonsensical lack of assistants, she resorts to cooking microwave dinners for herself. Outside on the grounds, she also has a gadget man, Bryce (Noah Taylor), living in a trailer. He comes in handy when Lara busts through a wall beneath a staircase to uncover a clock that suddenly starts ticking. Inside the clock is the All-Seeing Eye – the very artifact desired by a group of elite occultists/archaeologists (the Illuminati) in Venice, Italy, who wish to misuse the Triangle of Light – a mystical structure that can manipulate time itself, and which can be located/utilized only once every 5,000 years when the planets in the solar system align.
An obvious villain makes an appearance in the form of henchman, lawyer, and antiquities-obsessed scholar Mr. Powell (Iain Glen), while Daniel Craig shows up to be a suitable yet mild love interest. But these characters (as well as Jon Voight as Lord Richard Croft, Lara’s father), have little bearing on the adventure, which is soundly obliterated by the most ludicrous action concepts committed to celluloid in quite some time. Ill-fitting techno-rock music narrates aerial shootouts, aerial motorcycle stunts, and an aerial bungee-jumping workout/meditation in pajamas – set up in the middle of Lara’s palace. And those beats continue to preside over ridiculous globe-trotting feats, Cambodian tomb-raiding, giant pendulum-riding, tobogganing without a toboggan, and all manner of machine-gun shootouts.
Although the idea of a female adventurer (essentially a counterpart to Indiana Jones) sounds exploitable, the execution of her feats – and their designs – are incredibly pitiful. The stunts are so poorly choreographed that they possess no intensity, while the use of pure fantasy (along the lines of “Jason and the Argonauts” or Sinbad’s various voyages) and dated CG both look bad and blend unconvincingly with Lara’s humanity. She may be capable of superhuman maneuvers, but it’s still too much to believe that possessed golems can saunter about in these real world locations. Messing with the space-time continuum is also problematic. Plus, her choice of revealing outfits (a skintight T-shirt and fur hoodie for Siberia is particularly goofy) grows steadily sillier rather than steadily sexier. Very, very little about this movie makes any sense.
– Mike Massie