Tomb Raider is one of my favorite video games, and correspondingly Lara Croft is one of my favourite characters. I’m all too aware that both this film and the earlier Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are not the answer to my prayers to see these games well represented on the big screen, however they still manage to charm me in their own, flawed way. This film in particular I can often have a lot of fun with. Despite the action often not being truly involving, and the plot being vapid at best, there are still elements like Jolie’s excellent portrayal of Lara to keep things entertaining enough. And of course there’s the shark punch.
Many people who know me will have heard me mention the shark punch in this film at some point. It’s an event which takes place around fifteen minutes in and is so ridiculous, so utterly silly that it’ll either put a big grin on your face and you’ll sit down and enjoy the rest of the film whilst not taking it too seriously, or you’ll just groan and flick across onto something else. Needless to say, I’m part of the first group. However, as much fun as seeing a growling, ridiculously fake looking CGI shark getting punched in the face is, it is one of the few highlights of the film. There’s some good action scenes here, and although there is no discernible reason for them not to be exciting, they too often feel somehow a little empty and distanced. The film is clearly wanting to give us a good time, and it does sometimes succeed, but the fight scenes all too often don’t engage enough, especially so when they rely on the overused slomo.
As I’ve already mentioned, Angelina Jolie does a great job as Lara Croft; she delivers on believably handling a lot of the action herself, has the look down to a tee, and brings enough humor and humanity so as to avoid her character being nothing more than a cookie cutter action hero. Gerard Butler gives a passable performance as renegade British agent Terry Sheridan, there’s really very little interesting about his character, and yet he manages to walk the line laid out for him well enough. Ciarán Hinds is cast as the ultra-villain who literally doesn’t care who he kills as long as he is evil. I have no problem with that, it keeps things simple and it can be fun, here though Hinds doesn’t give us all that much. To be fair to him, he is presented with very little from the script to work with, but at the same time its a shame that he couldn’t have brought a little more to the table.
So considering the criticisms that I’ve just laid out, you could be forgiven in thinking that I don’t like this film. Sure it’s at times underwhelming and a little disappointing, but when approached with the right attitude I still manage to find this movie pretty entertaining. There are many references to the game series for the fans, Jolie has several fun lines and shoots, jumps, and kicks her way through this film very well. The unexpected humanity towards the end is also praiseworthy; it is slight, but it’s there and it doesn’t feel phoned in, but actually comes across as pretty genuine. It perhaps speaks to the better film that we could have had, but what we have here is fun enough and not as bad as it is often made out to be.
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