By most accounts superior to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, this sequel is helmed by former Hollywood favourite Jan (Speed, Twister) De Bont. The plot of Cradle of Life demands more of De Bont's technical talents more than his limited directorial skills - so the result provides a satisfyingly lightweight action vehicle. Pneumatic star Angelina Jolie looks terrific as the titular archaeological adventurer, as the posters depicting her in silver skin-tight jump suit perfectly demonstrated. Rarely has real life lived up so vividly to its computer game origins. Fetishising aside (and I'm not even a Jolie fan) this is actually an enjoyable action adventure romp that has the occasional scene of Lara digging in the dirt for some mystical artefact - to remind us just what it is she actually does for a living.
With his star on the decline, De Bont has clearly gone all out to prove a point: 'If you'd have given me a Bond movie: I could have delivered'. Maybe not quite, but he does prove he can handle all the necessary components of a globetrotting espionage plot with style at least. Indeed, if you merely replaced the Lara Croft character with a certain agent of Her Majesty's secret service - there'd be very little of substance that would require significant alternation for this to be a convincing Bond outing. Which, when you think about it, is both credit to Cradle of Life for what it delivers and an alarming recognition of just how far the Bond franchise has slipped ever deeper into predictable, cookie cutter script formula filmmaking. Still, it's a fun romp. 6/10
Rob Dyer (April 2004)
Croft: Tomb Raider
Any Peirce Brosnan Bond film
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