The ‘Lara Croft’ gaming franchise is up there with the most successful and popular of all time. The games are brilliant fun, there has been a wide range of merchandise released throughout the years and I doubt there are many girls who didn’t once dream of being Lara herself. This was my first experience of the film side of the franchise, and whilst I love the games and the concept of a female Indiana Jones-like character, this was certainly another example of a successful game franchise failing to make the jump to a successful big screen blockbuster.
Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) is a wealthy, gun- wielding, no-holds-barred archeologist. In this film, she sets out on a solo mission to recover an ancient artefact – “The Triangle of Light” – that has been split in half and placed at opposite ends of the Earth. The triangle gives the possessor the ability to cross through space and time and as you can imagine, this power attracts some rather unwelcome suitors. An all-action race against time ensues to ensure that this relic, and its subsequent power, does not fall into the wrong hands.
This film has everything you want from an action film. High-action fight sequences, adrenaline pumping chases and a bit of a fantastical storyline along the way. So it has all the makings of a good action film then, yes? No. This film lacks in so many departments that its redeeming features purely drag it up to mediocrity at best. My main gripe was with the acting. It really is quite shambolic, on the part of near enough everyone. Even the mighty Daniel Craig is on poor form on this showing. But we can just about forgive him, as he was a relative newcomer to the blockbuster scene back then, and he certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that his character was inexplicably American. Why cast the quintessential British gentleman as a sneaky, money-grabbing American? It made little or no sense to me. Iain Glen (of ‘Game Of Thrones’ fame) is the film’s villain, and I was disappointed by his performance as well, as he is brilliant in the acclaimed TV series. The winner of the worst acting performance, however, goes to Noah Taylor for his portrayal of Bryce. Bryce is to Lara Croft, what Q is to James Bond, but how this bumbling idiot has the brainpower to create a robot simulation program for Lara to practice her skills with is beyond me. He is the character who provides the comic relief from the storyline, although that too is so farcical that I’m not sure his presence is actually necessary at all. If that wasn’t enough, the soundtrack to the film was offensively cheesy and just added to the tacky tone of the experience.
Despite all that however, Angelina Jolie is brilliant in the titular role, and she shines through this otherwise bewildering and frustrating mess. She is very much a likable character and it’s no wonder so many young girls aspired to be like Lara Croft. She is the embodiment of the powerful, independent woman and she simply dazzles on screen, despite her questionable British accent. The star factor that Jolie channels throughout the film is probably the sole reason that a sequel was made, and the film owes pretty much all of its success to her.
I really wanted to like this film, as it’s a genre I enjoy. It was, however, not an overly wonderful experience. Although I may have slated ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ throughout this review, it is probably worth a watch, and if I’m honest it does an acceptable job of producing the goods for what it is; a lighthearted, action-adventure movie. Other people will read this and disagree with every negative thing I’ve said, because this franchise has thousands of devoted fans that absolutely love everything about it. But this simply wasn’t what I’d hoped for when I sat down to watch it. Maybe I’ve just become too much of a film snob? Who knows, but I certainly won’t be joining Miss Croft on her next adventure.
Director: Simon West
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Iain Glen, Noah Taylor, Daniel Craig