As re-imagined for the film, Lara (Angelina Jolie) is a young British aristocrat whose wealth and expertise in everything from archeology to martial arts come in handy when she's pitted against a shadowy organization seeking to rejoin two pieces of an ancient artifact and--you guessed it--take over the world. Not one to turn down a challenge (or call the international law-enforcement authorities), Lady Lara straps on her trusty semiautomatic pistols, slips into a succession of tight tank tops and recklessly leaps from one danger-fraught situation to another, firing hundreds of rounds of ammo without ever once hitting a human opponent.
Director Simon West ("The General's Daughter") wisely lingers on the ridiculous plotline as little as possible, focusing his attention on a string of elaborate action sequences more notable for their frenetic pacing than their creative staging or originality. Tough-chick specialist Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted") is credible enough as a gal who can take out a dozen heavily armed commandos in her pajamas, though her aloof, smirky presence makes it a bit hard to warm up to the protagonist (a halfhearted stab at generating pathos with flashbacks of Lara's late father, played by Jolie's real-life dad Jon Voight, receives mercifully little screen time).
Not that many of the young fans who have turned Lara Croft into one of the history's first cyber-celebrities are likely to miss the lack of emotional depth. They'll be paying attention to Jolie's jumps, kicks and two-handed shooting moves, and on that level "Tomb Raider" delivers respectably enough. Starring Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Noah Taylor, Iain Glen and Daniel Craig. Directed by Simon West. Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. Produced by Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin and Colin Wilson. A Paramount release. Action. Rated PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality. Running time: 100 min