Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life Review

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A mystic globe found in an Alexandrine temple contains instructions to the hiding place of Pandora's Box, which bio-weapons dealer Reiss wants to let loose on the world. World-travelling archaeologist and adventuress Lara Croft is on hand to save the day.


As you might expect of a film with three titles run together - let's just call it Tomb Raider 2, shall we? - this sequel suffers from fatally fuzzy thinking. Everything wrong with the first film is still not fixed, though replacing Simon West with Jan De Bont means slightly better-paced action sequences - one freefall dive from a Hong Kong skyscraper is worthy of 007, if only Roger Moore.

Angelina Jolie perfects her English posh bird accent, and she looks spectacular in a grey wetsuit. Otherwise, Lara Croft remains a pixel-thin hybrid of James Bond, Indiana Jones and Modesty Blaise, whose only character trait is a petulant snottiness that sits ill with last-reel idealism. Her entrance involves jet-skiing past a boat and splashing understandably resentful employees, who get killed a few minutes later and are promptly forgotten.

In the games, the joystick jockey is supposed to be tempted to guide Lara to an undignified comeuppance as often as he gets her through perils - but a smug heroine you half-want to see splattered over the landscape isn't a workable movie notion. She's also notably useless as an archaeologist: never turning up at a site without breaking dozens of irreplaceable artefacts in ill-defined grudge-fights.

The plot repeats the original's mistake: we hop around the globe (Greece, China, Hong Kong, Africa) in search of a mystic trinket that can destroy the world, but in defiance of traditional scriptwriting rules, it's the villain (glowering Ciaran Hinds) who's on a quest. The climactic struggle - which includes a reversal that ought to be devastating but falls flat - is a limp tussle in CGI-monster-plagued caves.

Curiously fun-free, drab and ho-hum, this lacks even the intermittent entertainment value of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.