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The video-game-inspired Tomb Raider is an action film with lips

DOn’t GIVE HER ANY LIP Angelina Jolie provides plenty of visual satisfaction in her titular role in <i>Lara Croft: Tomb Raider</i>.

DOn’t GIVE HER ANY LIP Angelina Jolie provides plenty of visual satisfaction in her titular role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Starring Angelina Jolie and Jon Voight. Directed by Simon West, Rated PG-13.
Rated 3.0

Angelina Jolie has real purdy lips. In fact, to have them hovering over one’s head in a darkened theater, 20 feet across, slightly parted and pouting is, well, diverting. Too bad that’s about all the diversion Tomb Raider has to offer.

Granted, we’re talking a popcorn movie adaptation of a video game here, so one really doesn’t expect convoluted plotting and scintillating social insights. As expected, director Simon West operates on the Keep It Simple (for) Stupid theory, to the degree that the film goes through such convolutions trying to connect one pyrotechnic set-piece to another that anyone with an IQ larger than Jolie’s digitally enhanced bust size will get a migraine trying to attach logic to the proceedings.

On the other hand, there is always Angelina, with her sprayed-on hot pants and tank top and sporting some very large weapons, to make the proceedings less painful.

The story, cobbled together by no fewer than six hired guns (including West), is fairly basic: English noblewoman and über-archeologist Lady Lara Croft is called upon by the spirit of her dead father (Jolie’s own old man, Jon Voight) to save the world from the nefarious plans of that ancient and preternaturally evil cabal, the Illuminati.

It seems that there’s this ancient device that holds the power to manipulate time, see? Anyway, after it pretty much destroyed their civilization, a bunch of graybeard types got together and decided that it was a “power too dangerous for man to possess,” so they broke it in half, hiding the two pieces in separate and insanely hard-to-reach (but exotic, of course) locations. (Why they didn’t just keep pounding it into gravel and use it on the driveways is beyond me. Oh, that’s right, they didn’t have cars back then.)

Anyway, so it’s a race against time between Lara and some evil lawyer to retrieve the two pieces, reconnect them and … Uh, what anyone really intended to do with that power is never exactly made clear. Lady Croft wants to revisit her old man and then destroy the whole thingy, but as far as the Illuminati’s plans, all I can tell is that they want nothing more than to go back a day and make bets on the World Cup. Or something like that.

Did I mention how fetching Angelina is as Lara Croft? Well, apparently not so in the eyes of those greedy old bastards of the Illuminati. During the course of the movie they do everything within their considerable power to take her out (and I’m not talking about a night at the opera with a nice dinner after, either). For example, at one point they send a commando team to her chateau for an early morning wakey-wakey. Unfortunately for them, Lara just happens to be up at that time doing some odd bungee-ballet thing from the rafters, leading to an extended Matrix meets Mission: Impossible sequence.

And therein lies the problem with Tomb Raider: Each action set-piece is utterly derived from earlier films. Terminator? Been there, done that—next! Golden Voyage of Sinbad? OK, bonus points for at least being obscure in the skullduggery. Then there’s that whole Indiana Jones-as-kickass-Barbie thing going down. It would seem so very tired already even if it weren’t emphasized further by the interminable stretches of exposition used to progress the nonsensical plot. It’s an action movie, right? So get on with the action … jeesh.

But then, there is always Angelina, each line delivered as if for the trailer, each pose struck as if for the bedroom wall. And there, my friend, is why the whole damned thing works … in a perverse sort of way. Why are most people going to go see this movie? Angelina Jolie in fetish form, of course. Duh. And on that level, it delivers (within the bounds of a PG-13 rating, of course).

Ultimately, it’s just the filmmakers going through the motions. But with Angelina providing the motions, that is diversion enough on a hot summer afternoon.