What happens when a mediocre film gets a sequel? Most of the time you get forgettable garbage – albeit the kind of film that you might see on TV quite often because it costs 43p to licence and they can stick it on whenever they really don’t have anything else to show. The first Tomb Raider film was pretty mediocre – too competently made to be truly rubbish but nowhere good enough to be genuinely enjoyable. Its sequel is almost exactly the same and thus it falls into the hole where so many forgettable garbage sequels will live out its days.

This time Lara Croft (with Angelina Jolie reprising the role) is on the hunt for The Cradle of Life, which is housing Pandora’s Box. A biological weapons dealer, Jonathan Reiss (played by a Ciarán Hinds who seemingly knows he deserves better than this) is on the hunt for it because he is an evil man with an evil plan – he will sell Pandora’s Box to other evil mens with evil plens – and then they will set it off removing most of the “undesirable” people on Earth. Croft enlists the help of Terry (played by a pre-cool Gerard Butler), a character so good I just had to look at the Wikipedia page for this film to remember his name even though I finished watching the movie ten minutes ago.

Performances are mostly bad – Jolie still makes a good Lara Croft but that’s not enough to save the movie. Hinds seems to be constantly on the cusp of going completely hammy with his performance which probably would have made for a better character as Reiss is as generic of a villain as you can get. Then there is Gerard Butler, this was not long before he truly broke out as a mega star in 300 but this isn’t one of his finest moments. I’ve never taken to Butler when he’s playing a smarmy “charming” guy, I just don’t think he does it well.

You can tell this film had less of a budget than the previous one – there is some bad CGI in places and they don’t even try to have interesting action scenes so it feels like a downgrade to the first. There’s no emotional core like the first with Croft essentially chasing after her father’s legacy. The closest we get is a “will they get together?” between Croft and Butler which is supposed to have this emotional end but it falls flat because they never had much chemistry anyway.

There’s not much else to add, it’s a boring film and it, alongside the much maligned Angel of Darkness which came out the same year, helped to truly end Tomb Raider as a big deal. The games would eventually get back on track but despite a decent box office return for Cradle of Life, they never went through with making a third film – Jolie didn’t want to return and without her Tomb Raider as a film franchise was always going to struggle. At least, until 15 years later…but we’ll get to THAT. Eventually.

Tomb Raider could have filled the Indiana Jones shaped action adventure with mythical and fantastical elements gap in the market, but instead of making fun films they elected to make boring action movies at a time when boring action movies were ten-a-penny. At least the games are (mostly) good.

Also I tried using my toaster after watching this film to get a small snack for writing this review and the thing caught fire, this is clearly a sign that this film is THE WORK OF THE DEVIL and thus my flat will be undergoing a full exorcism very soon.


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