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Film / Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life

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The 2003 sequel to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider has Lara (Angelina Jolie) in search of Pandora's Box. Evil scientist Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) seeks to weaponize the contents of Pandora's Box for biological warfare. Lara is paired with former love interest Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler), an ex-Royal Marine who betrayed his country and turned mercenary.

The film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: At the end of the movie Hillary and Bryce nearly get married in an African ceremony which involves getting their hair braided. Or so they are told; the way the natives laugh as they flee implies it's a practical joke.
  • The Alcatraz: Barla Kala prison in Kazakhstan, where Terry Sheridan is imprisoned. The novelization goes into some detail about it, stating that the prison is a dumping ground for what are viewed as the most dangerous terrorists in the world: "where the civilized world sent those who would never learn to be civilized." The fact that Sheridan was imprisoned in the same place as literal al-Qaeda members gives us some idea of how his government views him.
  • Acid Pool: Pandora's Box floats in a bubbling black pool of concentrated acid to deter anyone from stealing it.
  • All of Them: Hillary and Bryce have no idea what the orb is that the Chen brothers stole, so Lara tells them to research every reference to an orb in the history of ancient Greece.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: After an earthquake in Greece exposes Underwater Ruins, rival tomb raiders turn up to dive on the site in the hope of finding the Luna Temple. Lara has the Petrakis family hold back because she knows they're diving in the wrong place. Unfortunately the Lo brothers follow her, kill the Petrakis and steal the orb.
  • Artifact of Death: The Pandora's Box, treated as a container for a superplague.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The roaring (and whimpering) shark.
  • Bad Vibrations: The guests at a Greek wedding turn up the stereo so loud the champagne in the glasses starts vibrating...along with everything else as an earthquake occurs, collapsing a cliff and exposing a buried Greek temple, which sets off the plot.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Jonathan Reiss. Winner of the Noble Peace Prize, he actually makes his living selling biological weapons to anyone who wants to buy them.
  • Blood from the Mouth: The establishing character moment for Jonathan Reiss is him in a private jet with his clients. He poisons one who snitched on him to Interpol, intoning "this is the sound of a traitor dying" as he gurgles his last, bleeding profusely from his mouth.
  • Boxed Crook: Rogue Agent Terry Sheridan is imprisoned in Barla Kala. Lara gets him out and he's promised a clean slate and expensive payment if he helps Lara get her orb back. There's dramatic tension from the distinct possibility he might sell the orb back to Reiss or anyone else if he gets his hands on it.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: During the Shadow Guardian ambush, one of the soldiers wets their pants in fear before being killed.
  • Brits Love Tea: No, it's only for guests. Intruders get shown the door.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: Lara and Terry square off. There is a bang and Lara begins to collap—...oh, nope, that's Terry faceplanting while Lara looks on with a tragic expression.
  • Captured on Purpose: Terry's plan for infiltrating the Shay-Ling, since he left somewhat under a cloud having stolen a truckload of ming vases and the sister of a Giant Mook—Chen leaves him with the latter to get reacquainted while he discusses business with Lara. Terry lets the goons pound on him only long enough for Lara to conclude her business before kicking their asses.
  • Chained to a Bed: Played With. Lara seduces Terry to let his guard down and cuffs his arm to the foot of her bed. He initially thinks she's getting kinky but she quickly establishes she intends to leave him there while she continues the mission on her own.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Some of the characters of the first film aren't mentioned.
  • Clothing Damage: For once not used for fanservice. Reiss dangles Lara over the Acid Pool so she can grab Pandora's Box. When her reach isn't long enough, he tears her sleeve to extend it. She uses the opportunity for Giving Him The Strip.
  • Colon Cancer: As with the first movie's title.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: Done deliberately. We're never given ideologies or nationalities, but the small group of buyers to whom Reiss intends to sell Pandora is made up of representatives from armed factions that span the entire world. This is to ensure that the virus they release will spread as far as possible as quickly as possible.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • A man coughs up blood until he dies after ingesting the modified Ebola virus that Reiss had slipped into his drink. Reiss in turn gets his comeuppance when he's thrown into the acid pool and melted alive, screaming all the while.
    • Reiss's mercenaries are torn to pieces by the creatures guarding the Cradle of Life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Cradle of Life is guarded by the Shadow Guardians; monsters with no eyes, huge claws and More Teeth than the Osmond Family who can pass through solid rock. Reiss' mercenaries don't last a minute, and most of them don't even get a chance to fire their weapons.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Lara is both a woman and a tomb raider, and Reiss suggests that, like Pandora, she's just as eager to open the box as he is. Lara is shown reaching out for the lid and opening it slightly, causing glowing golden light to shine out, but she resists the temptation and pushes Pandora's Box back into the pool of acid.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • This film has higher stakes than in the first and significantly less whimsical tone.
    • The film also does this to the original Pandora myth (or as Lara describes it, "the Sunday School version"), which wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy to begin with. Rather than containing pain and suffering, Pandora's box contains a virus so deadly that it's described as (and may well be) an elemental anti-life force; the one time it's known to have been opened in the past, it levelled an entire army. Furthermore, while the original Pandora's box was said to contain hope as well as pain, there's no such silver lining described in this one: it's simply an extremely efficient WMD.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lara to Terry. Tragically she only defrosts fully just before realising she has to kill him.
  • Double Entendre: When a bikini-clad Lara gets in the boat after having splashed some men while riding her jetski:
    Lara: Hello, boys. You're all wet.
  • Eldritch Location: The Cradle of Life has labyrinthine tunnels where you can find yourself walking on the roof. It's not used much except to allow Lara to get the drop on Reiss during their final battle.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • Terry Sheridan believes that when push comes to shove, Lara won't be able to kill a man she loves for the sake of her principles. He's proven fatally wrong almost immediately.
    • He can't understand evil much either. When Lara objects to Terry selling Pandora's Box he retorts that no-one's ever going to actually use it. Given that he's already encountered one Omnicidal Maniac, he should know better.
  • Expy: Reiss is referred to in-universe as "a modern day Dr. Mengele," one of the real life Trope Codifiers for Mad Doctor and Mad Scientist.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Terry Sheridan. He's a former member of the Royal Marines who deserted his post and turned into an underworld mercenary, something the British government still hasn't digested.
  • Guns Firing Underwater: Justified; during the fight with Shay-Ling bandits in the temple, Lara uses a Heckler & Koch P11, a pistol designed to fire underwater.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: The prison governor puts on headphones so he won't be deafened by the shouts of the prisoners as Lara walks past their cells.
  • Hollywood Geography: If the establishing shots of Croft's travels in China were to be taken literally, it means that she landed somewhere in the Yangtze River Valley in Hubei (in south-central China), rode a motorcycle all the way to the Great Wall in northern China, then turned around and went back south to Xi'an for the fight in the Terracotta Tomb, and then went to Shanghai as she originally intended—that's about 4000 kilometers in rough terrain and she covered it all in a single afternoon.
  • Hope Spot: Lara finally lightens up to Terry when he realises he's on her side and not Reiss. Then she sees him stuffing Pandora's Box in a bag instead of throwing it back into the acid pool.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: Including a fight in a collapsing underwater temple, and a gunfight while Fast-Roping upside down.
  • I Have Your Wife: Lara smashes the computer Reiss was using to decrypt the orb. Rather than be delayed, he flies to the Croft estate and seizes Hillary and Bryce, using them to force Lara to lead him to the Cradle of Life.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Terry takes out the goons guarding Hillary and Bryce, then asks if either of them can fly Reiss's helicopter. To Hillary's surprise, Bryce can...but he's only had two hours of flying time and 150 hours playing flight simulation games.
  • It's Personal: Played with; Lara is very angry at Chen Lo for having the Petrakis murdered in Greece, but she's willing to set it aside and even offer him her protection in exchange for his helping her against Jonathan Reiss. Even after he's refused her offer and tried to kill her, she leaves him injured on the floor of his cave but still alive. She finally kills him when he still refuses to take the win and tries to shoot her In the Back.
  • It Works Better with Bullets
    • Lara Croft is being chased by Chen Lo who's carrying a sword, but she grabs a Lee Enfield from a crate of them and pulls the trigger. Of course, the rifle isn't stored loaded. That's not a problem as she then uses its bayonet and buttstock to good effect.
    • Invoked when The Dragon deliberately ejects his pistol magazine onto the floor, then tries to shoot Lara with his other pistol when she sticks her head up to shoot him.
  • Kill the Poor: Reiss. He's got a strong streak of Omnicidal Maniac in him, but as his New Era Speech to Lara clarifies, he doesn't actually mean for the Pandora virus to wipe out the entire human race - only most of them, thinning the herd so that only humanity's best specimens survive. What makes him this trope is that he has no intention of letting nature decide who these best specimens are, but instead is planning to manufacture an antidote and save what he considers to be the best: "heads of corporations, heads of state." (Admittedly, his reading of this trope defines "the poor" as "everybody but the very richest and most powerful.")
  • Leap and Fire: During the lab shootout, Lara does a Slow Motion leap-and-fire with Guns Akimbo and Hair Flip of her Braid of Action.
  • MacGyvering: Lara boards a junk in Hong Kong harbour and borrows their satellite dish and television, which she rigs up to her camera for a call to Hillary and Bryce back in England.
  • Mad Scientist: Jonathan Reiss is a cross between this and Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Downplayed; Lara wears a wraparound dress when she seduces Terry and handcuffs him to the foot of her bed to interrogate him.
  • Monitor Equals Computer: Played straight; Lara shoots the monitors to delay the computer's attempt to decipher the orb. Ironically one of the monitors is still intact, shown frozen at the remaining percentage needed to crack the code.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In the second half of the film, there's a scene where Lara sets up the orb to find the location of the Circle of Life- meant to be a serious scene that will kickstart the climax of the film. Only catch? She's doing this in a random family's house, all while the Chinese dub of SpongeBob SquarePants plays on TV in the background. Note 
    • Played for drama when Terry does an After Action Patch Up on Lara with the usual Ship Tease. The Big Bad has been killed, the world has been saved and Terry has proven to be on the side of Good. Then she sees Terry stuffing Pandora's Box in a sack...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lara Croft, as usual.
  • New Old Flame: Terry Sheridan for Lara.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Reiss is a scientist, not a fighter, and lets his men do all the dirty work. Even when he fights Lara at the very end, he only lasts as long as he does because he's got a gun and she doesn't. Even after being shot in the arm, Lara still manages to get in several good hits and toss him into a pool of acid.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When this trope is raised, Lara dismisses the idea. Terry agrees they're different, but he does believe they complement each other.
  • Only in It for the Money: Ultimately played straight with Terry Sheridan. It's not completely true, in that he does care about Lara, risks his life for her several times, and wants to share the spoils with her, but at the end of the day, if it's a choice between her and money, he'll choose the money. If it's a choice between the money and averting the risk of near-human-extinction by keeping Pandora from going on the market, he'll still choose the money.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Ciarαn Hinds tries to give a German inflection to the way Reiss speaks, but can't keep it up.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Lara can't understand why Bryce is stalling when she phones home to find out the key to the orb. Turns out Reiss and his men are there.
  • Pillow Pistol: Terry goes to put his gun under the pillow, but the bunk was already claimed by Lara as there was already a pair of pistols there. He gives a wry smile and puts his gun under the top bunk's pillow instead.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: An aftershock destroys the Luna Temple, and Chen Lo smashes up his terracotta warriors trying to kill Lara Croft.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: More like Real Life Designs the Costumes, this film puts Lara in more outfits with longer sleeves. This was done because the makeup used to conceal Angelina Jolie's tattoos during the filming of the first film was not as effective as it was supposed to be.
  • Redshirt Army: The African tribe who live on the mountain where the Cradle of Life is assign twenty warriors to take her there, only for them to be massacred by Reiss's mercenaries, who suffer the same fate (but much scarier) at the claws and teeth of the Shadow Guardians.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The establishing character moment for the bioterrorist/scientist villain, Jonathan Reiss, is him in a private jet with his clients. He poisons one who snitched on him to Interpol, intoning "this is the sound of a traitor dying" as he gurgles his last.
  • Rule of Cool: Terry wants to infiltrate Shay-Ling territory by truck. Cut to them in a Drop Ship over Chinese territory, which they deliberately crash into a lake to destroy the evidence, hitting the Ejection Seat moments before. Then in Hong Kong they use wingsuits to escape The Dragon, and in Africa Lara uses a steerable parachute to drop into the car driven by her local contact Kosa.
    Kosa: Don't you ever do anything the easy way?
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Gus Petraki and his sons Nicholas and Jimmy are friends of Lara and they do underwater archaeology with her. They are killed in the very beginning of the film just to show that the men trying to get Pandoras Box are dangerous.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Pandora's Box - Meaningful Name, isn't it?
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Lara climbing out of the ocean into her boat in a bikini.
  • Shame If Something Happened: When Chen Lo holds out for more money, Reiss is shown looking through file photos of his wife and children (whom he names) and says it would be a pity if they caught a sudden and fatal disease. Chen succeeds in getting Reiss to raise his price for the orb, but this is likely why he refuses Lara's offer of protection.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology: The orb created as a map by Alexander the Great can, when the right note is played, project a hologram of the location of the Cradle of Life.
  • Temple of Doom: Averted with the Luna Temple; it's only dangerous because it starts to collapse when another quake hits while Lara is inside.
  • Threatening Shark: Parodied, when surrounded by sharks, Lara Croft cuts her arm to draw one to her, punches it in the nose and proceeds to ride it to the surface.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Chen Lo. Attempts to extort one of the most dangerous men in the world for a job he's already being outrageously well paid for. Went into business with that man in the first place. Not only refused to take Lara's peace offers but continued attacking her to the point where she had no choice but to kill him (see It's Personal above). You'd be forgiven for wondering if he had a death wish.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Although she kicked ass and knocked off a few mooks in the first time, Lara acts more like a female James Bond with a license to kill, leaving behind a high body count and outright warning Sheridan that she is perfectly capable and willing to kill him if necessary.
  • Try and Follow: Lara and Terry use wingsuits for the Hong Kong exfiltration (even though this requires three times the accepted range, as Lara points out). The Dragon stares dumbfounded and then orders his minions to follow them, causing them to exchange an incredulous look.
  • Unconventional Food Usage: Lara uses bubblegum borrowed from a little girl to stabilize her video camera for a cam call back to the Croft estate.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Reiss' buyers. All of them are stated to be longtime clients of his, whom he's supplied with chemical and biological weapons in the past to use against their various enemies. As far as they know, Pandora is just another such weapon; they have no idea that it's far more virulent and incurable than anything they've ever seen, or that their provider is planning to use them to cause the extinction of most of the human race.
  • Upper-Class Equestrian: Lara is shown riding a horse side-saddle around her considerable family estate. Subverted when pop-up targets appear in the trees which she uses to demonstrate her Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Would you believe Reiss won the Noble Peace Prize before he took up a career of selling weapons of mass destruction?
  • We Can Rule Together: Reiss tells Lara he'd have no problem if she was one of the ones he gave the antidote to. Of course she's one of The Beautiful Elite, so there's no reason why he wouldn't other than the minor fact of her thinking he's a genocidal loony.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?
    • Averted; Reiss captures Lara in Hong Kong, but once he has what he wants he tells his minions to shoot her (admittedly he does explain his Evil Plan at this point, but that doesn't affect the plot). The second time in Africa he needs her alive because she knows the location of the Cradle of Life, saving him the trouble of searching the mountain for it.
    • After the Hong Kong shootout Lara asks Terry exactly this—he had Reiss in his sights and didn't fire. He protests that he didn't have a clear shot, but it makes her suspect his motives and she tries to leave him behind in Hong Kong.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: British Intelligence have given Lara the authority to kill Terry if needed. Terry however thinks she's just putting on a tough façade and, when she comes down to it, she can't bring herself to kill him. She disagrees, and tries to dump him in Hong Kong when she starts worrying he might betray her.
    Lara: I'm not leaving because I couldn't kill you. I'm leaving because I could.