Rewatched Jul 20, 2012
Tony Black’s review:
How did they get this so astronomically wrong? Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was, frankly, such an easy idea to make: a female, British Indiana Jones slinking her way around ancient mythology with twin guns, plummy quips and exotic locations - the template is there in so many films already, surely this easily should be exciting, funny, sexy and cool all in one package? Well... no. Simon West fudges it almost completely, instead supplying wooden dialogue in a flat script, wasting genuine talent in the cast and directing with all the visual tricks yet none of the iconic depth.
The big bone of contention for many is Angelina Jolie as the titular heroine. Personally, much as the definitive Lara Croft on film is yet to be found, for me she does a decent job; she has the perfect body (more important to fans than you might think), her accent is half bad given she's not remotely British and she nails the action beats spot on. The problem is jointly Lara's threadbare characterisation and how passive she is; you never get the sense she gives much of a stuff about anything here - even the unconvincing relationship with her deceased father, played by real life daddy Jon Voight, who fares less well with his plum English brogue (and given their real-life awkward relationship, this is all less convincing). Jolie plays her just too cool, too unafraid and passive - compare to Indy, who had his fears (snakes!) and would be beaten and pulped to the point you genuinely wondered how the fuck he'd get out alive. With Lara, you never doubt it for a second - it's just all too easy for her and it saps the narrative in a big way. That's a shame because all the Illuminati, planetary alignment, time triangle stuff is deserving of better talent behind the camera - yet it's just hollow here, encapsulated by Iain Glen as Manfred Powell, a villain best described simply as a 'bellend'. You have to wonder if Daniel Craig (wasted as a dumb American archaeologist, delivering an equally phoney accent - seeing he & Jolie in a scene playing opposite nationalities is bizarre frankly) now just denies his involvement in this if ever he's asked; you wouldn't blame him. And as for Chris Barrie and Noah Taylor as 'comic support' well... Mr. West, whatever your day job was before this, go back to it. The one thing he delivers on is production design; many of the sets here are gorgeous, delivering on the settings delivered by the iconic games - it's just a shame he struggles to deliver action sequences to rival them, coming closest with a storming attack on Croft Manor that's right out of a better movie.
A supreme missed opportunity here then. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider serves up a perfectly solid leading lady in Jolie, then forgets singularly to prop her up with barely any sense of characterisation, strong narrative or decent dialogue; all of the things the Indiana Jones series it wants to be had in spades. Given they're in the process of rebooting the games, it's high time Hollywood rebooted Lara and gave her the movie legacy she deserves - because trust me, this ain't it.