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Sunday, November 4, 2001
Wide Angle

An action film with a well-knit plot
Ervell E. Menezes

Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

HOW cinema adapts itself to contemporary phenomena like comic strips or more recently, video games? Perhaps, they further enhance the popularity of the subject. Hence the emergence of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider where the heroine, born into wealth and groomed at the most elite schools, travels to dangerous and mysterious locales in search of lost crypts and long-forgotten empires.

But this archaeological expert, Lara (Angelina Jolie), is also a one-woman army (if you can have Arnie Schwarzenegger, Stevan Seagal, Sly Stallone and company why not her?) who can handle any situation, somersault, swing, trapeze Tarzan-like and kill like a AK-47.

For the record, though, this pampered heiress takes prize-winning photographs, masters foreign languages and visits archaeological sites as a very good camouflage for her real passions: raiding tombs, settling scores with the bad guys and throwing herself into one extreme adventure after another in different parts of the globe.

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An Unbreakable record
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The X-Men cometh!
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A moving story of love
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Shaft is back
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Into the Dark Continent
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All about winning and losing
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A treat of action, suspense & drama
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A tender love story
October 1, 2000
An enjoyable entertainer
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A treat for car lovers
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Of matters black & white
July 23, 2000
It is a question of identity
July 16, 2000

Her mission here is to find two halves of an ancient artefact buried in space and time. To possess it means ultimate power to the possessor, apart from saving the world from doom and she flits from Cambodia to Siberia as if on a magic carpet. Her arch enemy is Manfred Powell (Daniel Craig), a suave archaeologist looking for the same other half of the artefact and so their paths are forced to criss-cross each others.

This then is the bare outline of the story in which Lara’s dad Lord Richard Croft (Jon Voight), now dead, is an important ingredient to the story and guess what in this world of anything-is-possible our heroine is able to rendezvous with him (incidentally Jon Voight is Angelina Jolie’s father in real life). The rest is all action with Lara battling men, weird stone-like creatures from various crypts and doing her utmost to achieve this mission-quite-possible.

It is sad that an actress as talented as Angelina Jolie (remember her in Girl, Interrupted?) should be given such a physical role. But she has the persona and the God-given female assets for it and she seems to grow in stature as the film progresses. In defence of the film one must admit that there is a plot and however fantastic the events are (what else can one expect from a video game?) there is a thread that connects them unlike some of the recent action films which are quite devoid of either rhyme or reason.

Another plus point is that the action is quite concise and it is all over in around 100 minutes, not those overlong entertainers where one is just waiting for the end which never seems to come. Adapted by Simon West who also directs the film it is easy on the eye, that is if one does not exert one’s brain. The sound may not be that easy but guess one later on tends to get used to it. The razzle-dazzlery is the selling point and it could well be a case of all being well that ends well but recommended mainly for the youth that is so hung up on these video games.

Exit Wounds however, is a different kettle of fish with one-man army Stevan Seagal as a cop asked to clean up the toughest precinct of Detroit from the menace of hardcore drugs. The curtain rises to a politician making a speech about the violence in the United States. "Gun-shot wounds are the second leading cause of deaths," he says. As if to prove the point the film sets about confirming this statement much to the chagrin of discerning cinema buffs. So our hero Orin Boyd (Seagal) has to infiltrate into the drug syndicate and because of his integrity he earns the wrath of his more corrupt seniors.

But it is bang-bang mayhem almost throughout the film. If there are a few good lines they are lost in a barrage of mayhem with director Andrezi Bartkowiak really going to town. As for acting or any semblance of it, it is conspicuous by its absence. "Watch now, think later" seems to be the formula but thanks, no thanks, Exit Wounds is not my kind of film. May be exit is the operative word.

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