In a summer wrought with sub standard sequels, 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The cradle of life' proves to be another unnecessary addition. Before the movie could even get underway, a Jeep advertisement reinforced my worst fears that I was about to be witness to another victim of excessive product placement. "This isn't a movie adventure", I thought to myself half way through, the adventure is merely an excuse for location and devices.
In its first sequence, a wedding atop a rocky surface goes wrong on a Greek island, when boulders crash due to an earthquake. This acts as the catalyst for Lara to make her entrance. In what is likely to be the most memorable segment of this movie, she drops into a stunning silver-blue bodysuit, and dives into the ocean for some underwater expedition, in search of a lost temple, that has now resurfaced. Here, we are informed via shallow dialogue laced with false history lessons, that Alexander the great hid an orb. The significance of this orb lies in the fact that it contains the location to Pandora's Box, apparently the cradle all of life and death as well.
Soon she and her crew are attacked and the orb is stolen. On its trail, to prevent the world from utter annihilation, Croft finds herself continent hopping from China to Hong Kong until the third act offers some sort implausible conclusion in the remote deserts of Africa.
Not helping matters is the presence of her ex-flame, Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler, a passable Clive Owen look-alike), once locked away for being a traitor to his country, but released on request from Lara herself. Their previous acquaintance is hardly apparent from the lack of chemistry that they share. Jolie, who must be given due credit for her fierce, impeccably stunning portrayal of Croft, is too much for her partner to match. Her physical prowess and British mannerisms are commendable traits and so is the ease with which she handles the strenuous action sequences, even though they do not adhere as a whole.
Part of the problem with this so far unsuccessful series is the absence of a central villain. While this was partially the problem with the first part as well, that feature was able to redeem itself with the presence of a mostly fun premise. This time round however, we get another bad guy in a suit, once a Nobel Prize winner, now set to take over the world for murky reasons. Some of this involves the release of viruses, and then selling their cure, but hasn't this plot thread been treaded numerous times before?
There is a sequence that involves Croft and Terry trying to get into China undetected. The method they settle on, using a pod thrown off a plane and then ejecting before the pod hits a cliff and explodes, doesn't seem like a very clandestine manner of entry. Other inconsistencies include the following: the bad guys using space inside a public shopping mall as their hideout, the exchange of money for goods atop a helicopter brought down to ground level to facilitate this exchange and the insistence of a the plot to the let the villains escape so that we can follow them to another country.
Jan De Bont (Speed, Twister), who once used to be an ace director, should really reconsider his choices. His sloppy editing team is also of little help as displayed by the shoddy fight sequences. In the end, this debacle leaves little doubt about the fate of this video game inspired movie. Unless someone has the courage to turn this into a fun adventure movie, that doesn't take itself too seriously, we are not likely to see more of the Croft's (mis)adventures. I am aware this is a movie based on a video game, but does it have to unravel like one as well? - Faizan Rashid