Simon West

Active - 1997 - 2019  |   Genres - Action, Drama, Adventure, Fantasy, War

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

He may be British by birth, but the films of director Simon West carry more Hollywood gloss than ten of his Los Angeles-born peers. With such big-budget major studio efforts as Con Air (1997) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), the fledgling director has indeed proven his keen ability to shoot entertainingly jarring action scenes that place filmgoers in the eye of a frenzied storm of chaos with such gleeful abandon that he has become a solid staple in the Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer cannon. His dramatic thriller The General's Daughter (1999) also hinted toward a growing sense of character and plot development. Born in the North Hertfordshire town of Letchworth, West began his cinematic career working for the BBC before receiving funding from the British Arts Council to produce the short film Dolly Mixtures in 1985. Soon courted by the advertising company Limelight London, West began producing award-winning commercials for various products, eventually catching the attention of such trans-Atlantic companies as Budweiser and Ford. After emigrating to the United States in the mid- to late '80s, West made the acquaintance of Tinseltown director Bay and an enduring partnership was forged. Following the direction of such popular television spots as the Budweiser dancing ants commercial, West was finally ready to take on his first feature film. Though Con Air was a disappointment from a critical perspective, it was the top box-office action film of the year and audiences thrilled to the kinetic action sequences that also cemented Nicolas Cage's abilities as a viable action star (following on the heels of Bay's previous mega-hit The Rock [1996]). Following shortly thereafter with the John Travolta thriller The General's Daughter, West confirmed his standing as a Hollywood player and was soon priming up for his biggest challenge to date, the big-screen adaptation of the popular Tomb Raider video game franchise. Eagerly anticipated by the game's devoted fan base, and with fearless star Angelina Jolie in the role of shapely heroine Lara Croft, the film did well in staying true to the source material's inventiveness, exotic locales, and pulse-pounding action. Additionally, Tomb Raider was a large box-office success and left audiences hungering for more. Though West didn't cite the film's DVD debut as a "director's cut," the adventurous filmmaker utilized the flexible new home video format to assemble a slightly altered cut of the film that continued to display an enthusiastic and inventive approach to filmmaking.

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