Cradle 2 The Grave Review

Gary Couzens has reviewed the theatrical release of Cradle 2 The Grave, an efficient though formulaic actioner starring Jet Li and DMX.

As a laser beam draws the opening credits across the screen, Tony Fait (DMX) and his sidekicks Daria (Gabrielle Union) and Tommy (Anthony Anderson) are breaking into a high security establishment and stealing a stash of black diamonds. But intelligence agent Su (Jet Li) is on to them. As are crime boss Chamber (Chi McBride) and traitorous government agent Ling (Mark Dacascos). In fact everyone wants those diamonds. When Ling kidnaps Fait’s daughter, Fait and Su are compelled to join forces…

Cradle 2 The Grave is an efficient though overplotted B-movie actioner. In this type of film, blazing originality is not what’s asked for. More important are the genre conventions, what spin you can put on them and which variations you can play. Sensibly, Cradle 2 The Grave doesn’t mess around: it fills its running time with action setpieces and a salting of comedy relief. An example of the latter is the scene where Tommy has to come on to a gay security guard to distract him.

Andrzej Bartkowiak was a cinematographer of some distinction, particularly for his work with Sidney Lumet. In recent years he’s become one of the Joel Silver stable of action directors, delivering the goods with efficiency but not too much flair. Indeed, if anyone is the controlling figure here, it’s Silver: the combination of hard action with laughs, the built-in appeal to various ethnic demographics. Jet Li shows us a few of his moves, but in Hollywood he seems rather remote and lacking in charisma, probably hampered by local safety regulations and the use of doubles and CGI at certain moments. Rapper DMX, who was second banana to Steven Seagal in the Bartkowiak-directed Exit Wounds gets fully-fledged co-lead billing here, and in this film at least is much more personable a presence. As a film, you know what to expect from Cradle 2 The Grave and you get it pretty much. While the final credits roll, two of the characters chat about writing a screenplay based on what has just happened, and who they’d get to star in it. And the director? You know, that Polish guy, the one who made Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds


Updated: Apr 03, 2003

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