To briefly engage my review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: “Simon West’s dreadfully boorish film doesn’t know how to handle a woman like [Angelina] Jolie.” Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is infinitely more fun and feral than its precursor, and it exudes an attitude worthy of the diva that rides it. As per the Queen’s command, Lara Croft (Jolie) must secure the mythical Pandora’s Box and save the world from mass destruction. Along the way, she butts heads with Chinese crime syndicates and a former Nobel Prize winner, Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds), who has germ warfare on the brain. After a banal opener that evokes the crummy underground sets of the first film, Jan de Bont’s wind-up toy is quickly set into motion. As soon as an oxygen-starved Lady Croft punches a shark on the noggin and rides the beast to the surface of the sea, the film moves giddily and elegantly from one set piece to the next as the eponymous heroine solves puzzles and secures new tidbits of information in various lands. The competency with which de Bont makes every action sequence in the film its own self-contained entity truly does bring to mind the different stages of a video game, something the original film never really accomplished—at least not with this much bravado. Jolie’s gaze is her most powerful ammunition and de Bont affords her ample time to give good face. From Singapore’s seedy underbelly to a Hong Kong corporate tower where Reiss’s goons keep shop, Croft gets to kick some major ass. More impressive than the punchy action sequences is the elegiac tone to some of these moments, especially a scene that has Croft and sidekick Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) sailing off the roof of the corporate tower and onto a barge sailing in a nearby body of water. A curious bit of CGI business toward the end of the film isn’t quite as suggestive it could have been, but it complements the script’s earthy, spiritual quotas nonetheless. Save for one excellent tune by Craig Armstrong and a chill-out remix of “Tears from the Sun” by Conjure One and Sinead O’Connor, the soundtrack isn’t quite as consistently high octane as that of the original film’s. And even if the film is somewhat lacking in imagination, the central relationship between Croft and Sheridan is a fascinating one to watch mature and unravel over the course of the film’s two hours. The couple’s curiously sexy repartee truly goes hand-in-hand with the film’s fierce set pieces, and as such the overall effect of the film is that of a long make-out session sans a truly explosive payoff.
- Jan de Bont
- Dean Georgaris
- Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Barrie, Noah Taylor, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger, Simon Yam, Terence Yin
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