Sunday, March 18, 2018

Movie Review: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life

While the successful video game franchise had a ton of sequels, the film series only managed to have one. Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) returned for another tomb raiding adventure that follows the Greek myth of the Cradle of Life. A series of earthquakes triggers the curiosity of treasure hunts including Croft who seek out a lost tomb that has a strange glowing orb. Just as Croft has come to possess the orb, a group of attackers shoots her companions with harpoons and attacks her making her drop the orb and escape. She barely survives when Bryce (Noah Taylor) and Hillary (Chris Barrie) rescue her with a submarine. Lara Croft returns home frustrated and taking her anger out in training when MI6 approaches her about a new mission. A villainous biological weapons dealer Jonathan Reiss (CiarĂ¡n Hinds) seeks to possess the deadly Cradle of Life and the secret agency wants to stop him.

Lara Croft seeks out the help of the prisoner Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) who has secret knowledge. Together, the couple uses a jet glider and a parachute into China. They pick up weapons from an old Chinese lady and then bike down the Great Wall and up into the mountains where Terry knows of a gang of antiquities dealers. The gang leader Chen Lo (Simon Yam) attacks Lara while Terry gets beat up by his fat henchman. Lara beats the information out of Chen Lo and escapes the cavernous compound with Terry by sliding down ropes and shooting the gang members. In Shanghai, it is revealed that Lara and Terry had a romantic relationship that ended badly when Terry abandoned his post. 

Lara Croft sabotages the deal between Jonathan Reiss and the gang that has the orb. They fight across the rooftops as Reiss's henchman Sean (Til Schweiger) shoots at Lara. Despite her best efforts, Reiss makes off with the orb. Lara and Terry track Reiss to a tower where they are researching the orb's properties. A shootout ensues and Lara makes it to the orb transferring information to Bryce and Hillary. Sean captures Lara, and Reiss reveals his plan to sell the deadly disease to his buyers but then develop an antidote so he can pick who lives in the new world. Terry shoots at them freeing Lara and the two of them take an elevator to the top of the building. They don winged suits and jump from the rooftop gliding to a boat and away from Hong Kong.

Aboard the boat, Terry and Lara flirt and make out but Lara handcuffs Terry to the bunk to interrogate him. Lara ditches Terry and finds a place to transfer the remaining images to Bryce. The resulting tones cause the ord to display images of an African country and a hidden cave. Sean and Reiss are holding Bryce hostage so they follow Lara's conclusion to Africa as well. Lara meets up with Kosa (Djimon Honsou) and they speak with a tribe about the dangerous cave. Reiss shows up and puts a gun to Lara's head. They venture into the cave and find a strange forest. Monsters attack Reiss's soldiers as they jump in and out of the stone. Lara realizes they react to movement and manages to drop the orb down a hole to stop the monsters. They proceed into a cave that does not obey the laws of gravity. Terry has employed Bryce and Hillary to help him pursue Lara and Reiss. The box floats on a pool of acid but Lara escapes Reiss and fights him as Terry pulls the box out of the acid pool. Reiss falls into the pit of acid but then Terry wants the box. Lara makes the difficult decision to shoot Terry and return the box to the acid.

The Cradle of Life is a decent sequel if standards are lowered significantly compared to the first film and other movies based on video games. This film ended the series as led by Angelina Jolie who seems more comfortable in the role. It is weird that they decided to give her another male partner and can't just have her operating on her own through most of the action scenes. There is a bit of humor of the film which is nice and the action was somewhat surprising though once again the effects look somewhat ridiculous. They don't rely on them quite as much for this one and while the film isn't great, it is enjoyable to revisit these many years later.  

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