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:: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life

Verdict: Absolutely a blast. This film falls into the category where the sequel is better than the original - the stakes in action stunts and technological wizardry have been upped dramatically. Director, Jan de Bont who cut his work in directing ‘Speed’ and ‘Twister’, brings to this installation, superfluous action and gripping suspense. A stellar cast of actors helps him.

Angelina Jolie reprises her role as Lara Croft who teams up with former agent Terry Sheridan, played by Gerard Butler, in recovering the ‘Orb’ stolen by the Shay Ling, a Hong Kong triad, which holds the key to the location of Pandora’s Box. Pandora’s Box is said to house the ills of mankind, once unleashed causes many unmanageable problems.

It turns out that the Shay Ling intend to sell it to an evil scientist, Dr Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds), based in Hong Kong. Croft’s quest sets her on an exhilarating journey from England to China, Hong Kong, and finally to Kenya, the “Cradle of Life” where the Box is believed to be.

On screen, the chemistry between Jolie and Butler is as fiery and intemperate as their sexual tension between their characters. Butler as Sheridan, keeps the viewer on edge with his ambivalent displays of allegiance to Laura. Whereas, Jolie just blows you away by her fitness and skill when you know that she performed most of her stunts.

Most of the action sequence takes place in China and Hong Kong. The scene where Croft and Sheridan take off from the roof of a building is breathtaking and is an astounding camera and logistical feat.

Acclaimed Hong Kong action actor, Simon Yam, lavishes as the mercenary Shay Ling leader, Chen Lo, and Ciaran Hinds is satisfying as the archetypal megalomaniac villain-doctor, while talented German actor, Til Schweiger, rejoices in his criminal role as Dr Reiss’ right-hand man. Noah Taylor and Chris Barrie return from the first Tomb Raider as Croft’s able comrades, Bryce and Hillary.

The Tomb Raider films have an enormous appeal not just because it was borne from a computer game but that it combines ancient history and mythology in the context of the modern world with cutting edge technology. This premise is mirrored in the East-meets-West sub-theme of “Cradle of Life”. No doubt, the beneficiaries of recent collaborations between Hong Kong cinema and Hollywood are us viewers.