As adventuress Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie looks good enough kicking ass to make you wish the movie was interactive and not just the video game. With guns strapped to her thighs and her peepers flashing carnality, Jolie takes on all comers, including a killer robot set up by her combat trainer, Bryce (a sly Noah Taylor). But once Lara leaves her London mansion, the mood of Tomb Raider turns decidedly funereal. Lara hears a clock ticking, rips up walls to find it, and suddenly she’s talking gobbledygook about time and space, and globe-trotting to find the evil Illuminati (don’t ask) and return order to the universe.
It doesn’t matter if you have a $100 million budget to travel to Iceland and Cambodia — both look great, by the way — if your plot is incoherent. Among the special effects, the stone monkeys rock, but you might be more distracted by the fact that Jolie’s breasts seem to balloon and deflate from scene to scene. In the department of numbing ineptitude, the pacing runs a neck-and-neck race with the dialogue. Jolie uses a Brit accent that is not nearly as deft as the one Texan Renee Zellweger sports in Bridget Jones’s Diary. And Zellweger had clever lines to speak; Jolie is saddled with clinkers. Even the casting of her real father, Jon Voight, as Lara’s dead father, ranks as a missed opportunity.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Hollywood’s record for transferring video games to the big screen is abysmal — remember Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Brothers, Wing Commander and Double Dragon? And slick-dick director Simon West, of Con Air and The General’s Daughter infamy, continues to show no flair at all for blending action and character. Jolie and Lara deserved better. So did we.