Slick, dumb and utter trash – ‘Cradle’ is exactly what you’d expect and at times quite fun despite its moronity. Embracing formulaic yet visually exciting action, the thriller delivers in the areas where it needs to – fights, explosions, random wild stunts, and fun supporting turns from various comedians.
Pace remains break neck throughout, the soundtrack is all the hip hop you’d expect and the face offs are fast and furious. There’s no attempt at cheesy character development or sentiment, whilst the paper thin plot at least delivers where it needs to even if unsatisfactorily. Its the typical style you’d expect from the people involved in this project.
Still the film has some nice moments which set it apart from the likes of “Exit Wounds” or “Kiss of the Dragon”. For one thing there’s an almost retro sense of humour to everything from Anthony Anderson camping it up to little gags about cleavage, at times its silly but it helps lighten the mood. The cast, especially supporting turns by Union & Hu, are strong and help sell the admittedly thin material. Li as always brings a strong presence whilst DMX has a believable street cred even if the acting chops are somewhat still on the undeveloped side. The action stays interesting whether it be one hell of a chase sequence on off-road buggies or a Li vs. multiple fighters in a metal cage sequence, and a stunt early on involving a fall down a building.
There’s some gloriously cheesy touches here too from Chi McBride’s prison godfather style character, to the Armani clad villains hamming it up – and of course the ubiquitous group of ‘international arms dealers’ who come together for an auction (one is always a gorgeous model, another always wears a Kaftan or ceremonial tribal garb, yikes). Its mindless, heartless and has nothing redeeming about it whatsoever and yet like junk food there are times when you feel the craving. Admittedly there’s a lot better junk out there than this, but it stands above the likes of the similar looking “Ecks vs. Sever”.