It’s quite easy to forget just how huge of a phenomenon Lara Croft was when she first burst into the scene with her double guns (not an euphemism) and a bad ass attitude as the original Tomb Raider game sold millions. This was followed up by several sequels over the next five years. To date, the series has sold 67 million copies and is still going relatively strong today – albeit in a rebooted form. Heck, there was even a Tomb Raider movie just last year at the time of writing. We will get to that eventually because today we need to back to the start of the century. It is a post-Matrix world, and Lara Croft is making her debut on the big screen with Angelina Jolie taking on the role. The result is a film that is absolutely and undisputedly…okay.

The basic plot is not too far off what you might imagine a generic Tomb Raider film could be – Lara must travel the world in order to collect two pieces of an artifact to stop it from getting into the hands of…the goddamn Illuminati. Oh boy, the Illuminati is at it again folks. Strap in, folks. Her journey truly begins after she finds a clock in a hidden room within her house hidden there by her father before he died. Her father, by the way, is played by Jon Voight – Angelina Jolie’s actual father, which is nice. Her main rival is the smarmiest of smarmy people Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) who has enlisted the help of his own tomb raider Alex West (played by a Daniel Craig just as he was transitioning into a cool actor).

Angelina Jolie is a perfect fit for Lara Croft though, she manages to capture her badass charm pretty well. Unfortunately, this was her at her peak sexualised and there are a fair amount of scenes, especially early on in the film, that fall victim to this. Still, she puts in a good shift and it is hard to fault her performance at all. This film was also before Daniel Craig really found his footing as an actor I feel as he falls victim to the bad American accent club but he would go on to do pretty well for himself after this…

The biggest downfall of Tomb Raider is the fact that they did not manage to make an enjoyable plot – you could probably ask an AI to make a plot for a movie like this and it would come up with something similar to what we got. It just isn’t interesting and at no point do they really show the audience what would happen if the bad guys won. Whoever holds the triangle can control time. Cool. We never get told what the plan is or why it is so urgent that the Illuminati do not get their hands on it other than some “well, they can control the world!” OKAY, BUT HOW? The plot feels not very well thought out to put it nicely. Characters can turn on a dime for no reason – such as Daniel Craig’s Alex West suddenly deciding he was team Croft all along.

However this is an action film so how is said action? Some of it is rather goofy – there is one action scene where Lara Croft is fighting armed mercenaries while attached to a giant bouncy harness which is probably my favourite scene in the movie to be honest. It is goofy but in a fun way, whereas most other action scenes are fairly standard, especially for an action film that came out two years after The Matrix. There is a clear influence of that film to Tomb Raider from the improbable gymnastics that accompany a lot of the fights to the techno-tinged music that accompanies them. The soundtrack has some bangers on it though – Outkast, Missy Elliot and my favourite band of all time Nine Inch Nails wrote a song for it – I’m not gonna tell you I did not enjoy a lot of the music featured in Tomb Raider.

Ultimately though, it is a testament to the power of Lara Croft at this time that this movie performed as well as it did. It was not reviewed kindly yet made good money at the box office – still being one of the highest grossing video game adaptations ever – and a sequel was made. Oh, we’ll get to the sequel as well don’t you worry. I will worry, I have to watch it, but you don’t have to worry because all you have to do is read it and maybe give us a like and a retweet.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is not a good movie but it is at least a competently made film. If it just allowed itself to take a couple more risks with the plot and maybe spiced up the script a bit this could have been an enjoyable Indiana Jones-esque adventure – they certainly had the cast for it. Instead it falls into the worst trap of all – it is too good to be terrible but too uninteresting to even be decent. The cinematic equivalent to purgatory.


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