Directed: Aaron Nee & Adam Nee
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison
Released: April 13, 2022 (UK)
Cinema has been given many a litmus test over the past few years. Competing with the home cinema experience as the streaming revolution grew, before the pandemic effectively upended the notion of moviegoing and film release strategies for the foreseeable future. Getting people to venture into theatres, for anything other than the latest MCU blockbuster is something studios can no longer take for granted. In the latest test of genre appeal as well as old school Hollywood movie stardom, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum assemble for classic adventure comedy romp The Lost City.
Loretta Sage (Bullock) is a reclusive romance novelist whose disillusionment with her latest book, and life, in general, leads her to announce her intentions to kill off the novel’s leading man, to the dismay of her book’s pretty boy cover model, Alan (Tatum). Things take an unexpected turn however when Loretta is kidnapped by eccentric billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (played with relish by Daniel Radcliffe), who believes symbols referenced in Loretta’s book contain the key to deciphering the location of an ancient treasure. Desperate to prove he has more than just the good looks of an adventure hero, Alan sets off to rescue Loretta and jungle-based hijinks ensue.
The Lost City succeeds through knowing its actors. Both Bullock and Tatum have long proven their commitment to getting laughs, particularly showcased here as both are given ample opportunity to display their knack for physical comedy. In the film’s more romantic beats, the pair forge a passable chemistry and Tatum’s goofy yet endearing jock is effective in evoking empathy as Alan pines for Loretta. Radcliffe gleefully leans into his role as the pantomime villain, cheerfully moustache-twirling his way through each of his scenes in a manner that walks the line between grandiose and grating; landing on being entertaining enough that you almost want more of him. Almost.
Mostly through Loretta, The Lost City critiques the silliness of the adventure rom-com genre, yet wisely stops short of attempting satire. Gamely displaying an awareness of its clichés, while simultaneously winking at the viewer with the knowledge that these exact foibles are also the core of its appeal. Where the fun falters is in a noticeably ropey script. With limp dialogue (not quite the flex for a film that makes continuous jokes about lazy metaphors), and quips that scream their importance to the plot later down the line, this adds to the overall mechanics starting to wear within the final 30 minutes.
Yet, through its leading performances and amusing supporting turns from Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Loretta’s book editor, and Brad Pitt in a hilariously inspired cameo, The Lost City is just about brazen and breezy enough to justify a trip to the movie theatre.
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