Lara Craft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life (2003) – Directed by Jan de Bont – Starring Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Chris Barrie, Noah Taylor, and Djimon Hounsou.
LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE is a dreadful movie.
It’s an odd movie, too, in that it’s a much better directed movie than the original TOMB RAIDER film, but it’s a much more tedious movie at the same time. They alter the formula a bit, too, going from a treasure hunt flick to an espionage film in the James Bond tradition, and burdening Lara (Angelina Jolie) with a male sidekick, her ex-lover (of course), Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler).
It demonstrates an extreme lack of faith in Ms. Jolie and Ms. Croft that they think they need to add a wise-cracking romantic sidekick to the mix, and eliminate much of the treasure hunting this time around.
Of course, having said all that, there’s this:
1. The first movie wasn’t that great so I can’t really blame the studio for changing things up, and the addition of Jan de Bont to the director’s chair does make the action crackle a bit sharper this time around, and,
2. As awful a character as Terry Sheridan is, Gerard Butler is the best part of the film.
I criticized TOMB RAIDER for being cold and calculating, but that’s better than CRADLE OF LIFE, which replaces “cold and calculating” with “limp and lazy.” Jolie is completely on auto pilot here, relying on her dazzling array of haughty looks, tight outfits, and half smirks. The script is just as bad, coming off like cobbled together ideas that were rejected from Indiana Jones and James Bond scripts for being too stupid.
We open with some Greek treasure hunters scouring the sea floor for treasure after an earthquake. They’re nervous because other hunters are gobbling up the sea’s riches and “it will be all gone before she gets here,” which is the cue for Lara Croft to come zooming in on a jet ski, performing incredible stunts just to get everyone to look at her amazing jet ski abilities. Everyone here is looking for Alexander the Great’s Luna Temple but they’re all dumber than Lara so they go off looking in the wrong direction. Lara leads a pair of brothers down to the ocean floor and they find the temple, but they get jumped by a second set of treasure hunters who want the shiny gold globe that Lara also wants.
They take it and MI6 shows up to get Lara to help them blah blah blah and she eventually agrees to do it, but only if MI6 lets her team up with Terry Sheridan, who’s currently in prison because he was special forces and sold out his men and his country for a cash grab. MI6 agrees to this because Sheridan has knowledge of the Shay-Ling crime syndicate and so Lara goes and gets her ex-lover out of jail so they can engage in pointless and predictable banter. He’s a charming rogue who “got too close” and Lara hates herself for loving him and together they team up to beat people up and steal the golden globe back and generally bore me.
Lara plays kissy face with Sheridan and convinces him they’re gonna do it, but then she handcuffs him so she can run away and go off on her own. I’ll give CRADLE OF LIFE credit for this – Sheridan isn’t a good guy at all. He’s consistently looking to turn everything into a score, and it’s nice to see one of these charming rogues be more rogue than charmer.
After Lara ditches him, she heads to Africa, where she meets up with her pal Kosa (Djimon Hounsou) and they head to the Cradle of Life so the movie can blessedly end.
After they find Pandora’s Box and kill the bad guy (Ciarán Hinds), Terry decides he’s taking the box to sell and so Lara shoots him because he was going to shoot her and Lara decides to resist looking in the box, because she knows, deep down, that in that box was a large sum of money and the script to TOMB RAIDER 3.
I’m thinking we haven’t missed much by her refusal to come back for another round. In a way, it’s a shame because it would be great to have a female equivalent of Indiana Jones or James Bond running around, but after two films of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, this franchise clearly wasn’t up to the task.
Here’s hoping things change for the better when the reboot hits theaters sometime in 2013.