Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde

Angelina Jolie, Ciaran Hinds and Gerard Butler. Directed by Jan de Bont.
Running Time: 130 mins
Rated: MA 15+

You probably already know this is the sequel to a film originally based on a video game. We can only hope it will be "game over" for this film franchise. In this installment, The Cradle of Life, aristocratic, amateur anthropologist and professional adventurer, Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) sets out to find Pandora's Box. Presumably, to keep it closed.

Jan de Bont, whose best work seems to be in the rear-view mirror of an out of control bus (Speed, 1994), offers us a nearly incoherent series of stunts, fights and explosions. If anything, the price for admission is justified when Croft and her renegade SAS sidekick, don custom suits to jump off a Shanghai tower, then sail over the city like two flying squirrels. You can see an identical stunt performed in the Alps by the same (no doubt insane) Swiss para-gliders in a recent Warren Miller ski film. The benefit being that the rest of Miller's footage is more interesting than de Bont's.

Following a trend in which acting is an unnecessary luxury for action films, Jolie's attempt at the calm, cool exterior of British aristocracy comes off as somnambulism. The extent of her character's emotional range seems to be the raising of the occasional eyebrow.

The PG rating stems from the comic book violence and the very thin effort to find a love story. The later never gives in even to the removal of tight-fitting wetsuits, or flying squirrel suits for that matter.

The idea of a contemporary discovery of a prelapsarian box of evil has miles of potential, and de Bont has managed to cover at least a metre's worth. Let us hope the baton will be passed for the rest of the trip.

Harden Grace is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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