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Tomb Raider (June 13/01)

Tomb Raider is the latest summer movie - after The Mummy Returns and Swordfish - to eschew opening credits for immediate action. The problem is, with Tomb Raider, the action quotient is so low that fancy graphics might have livened up the proceedings a bit.

Angelina Jolie stars as Lara Croft, but really, she's just playing herself. If you've ever seen her in an interview, you'll immediately notice the similarities: A wry, sardonic sense of humor, a total disregard for the opinions of others, and very little respect for authority. Croft spends her days fighting robots created by her live-in scientist-type friend (his job description is never really explained). One day, though, she discovers a clock hidden by her long-dead father (played by Jolie's real-life dad, Jon Voight) and an impossibly complicated plot kicks into gear. It has something to do with an ancient civilization learning how to harness the planetary alignment for world domination, but then deciding that no human should ever have that much power. So what do they do? They break apart the key utensil responsible for achieving said world domination and bury it at opposite ends of the earth. Now, if they really didn't want any future folks to get their hands on it, would it not have made more sense to actually destroy the artifact? Alas, such questions are not to be asked of Tomb Raider, a movie that required five people to pen the script.

For a movie based upon an action-packed video game, the level of action is shockingly low. And because it's rated PG-13, Lara's guns have apparently been filled with blanks, because she kills no one. She maims and wounds (and even severely incapacitates) but lays death upon not a soul. As played by Jolie, the entire persona of Lara boils down to a smirk and a glare. It's not a bad performance, really; it's just uninspired. But with a script like this, blame needs to placed at the hands of the many so-called "writers."

Tomb Raider is directed by Simon West, who previously helmed Con Air and The General's Daughter. While those were dumb and proud of it, this one's just dumb. At least with something like Con Air, it was peppered with a variety of cool actors (Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, John Malkovich, etc). Tomb Raider has Jolie and Voight (barely) and that's it. Every other actor is virtually unrecognizable (well, the guy that played David Helfgott in Shine is in it - no, not Geoffrey Rush; the other guy). But besides all that, there is far too much exposition in Tomb Raider. Let's face it, people going to see this movie expect two things: Lots of action and lots of slo-mo shots of Jolie running. There's plenty of the latter, but hardly any of the former. There are a whopping total of three action set-pieces and the rest is filler.

Tomb Raider would probably best enjoyed by those under 10 (or those sporting a like intellect).

out of

© David Nusair