Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a 2001 action film starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Lara Croft, a skilled and sexy English treasure hunter. The movie was directed by Simon West, best known for his work on films like Con Air and The Mechanic. It’s also an adaptation of the popular video game franchise Tomb Raider (check out the more recent titles: Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015), Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018)), which has been attributed as a genre-defining title in the medium.
In addition to Angelina Jolie in the main role, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider contains some other notable names, including Jon Voight, Iain Glen, and Daniel Craig. Despite the stacked cast and decent director, film adaptations of video games are often lackluster and miss the mark, whether from a cinematic standpoint or in regards to the source material. Although Lara Croft: Tomb Raider indeed falls victim to some shortcomings, there are still some redeeming qualities to this wacky and campy adventure.
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The Movie Review
As would be expected, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider tells the story of Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie), a treasure hunter who uses her extensive fortune and agile talent to bag the most valuable commodities. Lara lives in a sprawling mansion with her butler Hillary (Christopher Barrie) and her friend and tech-whiz Bryce (Noah Taylor).
For the most part, Lara spends her days increasing her skills using Bryce’s high-tech training equipment, as she has become bored with standard treasure expeditions. She also mourns the disappearance of her father, Richard Croft (Jon Voight), who went missing trying to locate a priceless and powerful artifact. Lara soon finds a new obsession though, when she discovers a mysterious ticking clock located in a secret room in her mansion.
The clock’s discovery coincides with a solar eclipse that only takes place once every 5,000 years, that of which is tied to an ancient legend describing a powerful artifact known as the Triangle of Light. Unbeknownst to Lara, dark forces are also seeking the Triangle, led by the handsome and plotting Mr. Powell (Iain Glen).
Lara’s adventure to discover the Triangle takes her around the globe, taking her from the jungles of Cambodia to the snowy tundras of Russia. Although the mystery and characters surrounding the Triangle are ultimately underwhelming and goofy, the action throughout the journey is uproarious and entertaining. Although the concept of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider borrows elements from classic adventure franchises like Indiana Jones, its stylings are often reminiscent of sci-fi flicks like The Matrix.
Right from the start, the action is highly stylized and far removed from reality, more akin to a superhero film than anything else. Lara runs along walls while brandishing her signature duel pistols, flipping in the air and dodging danger with ease. While the practical effects like explosions and crashes hold up, the special effects look dated and corny, resulting in some unintentionally funny moments. Despite this, the majority of the action in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is entertaining, even though it can be laughable at points.
When compared to the iconic video game franchise that acts as the basis for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, the movie leaves a bit to be desired. However, there’s still an undeniable level of early-2000s charm, mostly seen in the outlandish action scenes.
While the script feels hurried and shallow, the acting performances are still commendable, especially from Angelina Jolie in the lead, as well as Daniel Craig and Iain Glen in their supporting roles. Watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is a mixed bag, as one moment you’ll be having a whole lot of fun, and the next you’ll be giggling at the silly dialogue and cheesy costume design. If you can look past the obvious flaws, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
- Fun, stylized action scenes
- Decent acting performances
- Borrows some aspects of the original video game
- Underwhelming and unbelievable plot
- Shallow characters