Film review: ‘THE LOST CITY’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’
THE LOST CITY
The Lost City is a moderately entertaining romantic comedy adventure in the tradition of Romancing the Stone and Jewel of The Nile with a touch of the historical puzzle solving of National Treasure. While this fluffy film has a few exciting and vaguely amusing moments, a little too often it feels as if the leads, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, are just making it up on the spot.
Here, Sandra Bullock plays archaeologist, turned romance novelist, Loretta Sage whose steamy stories, which mix dubious sex metaphors with actual archaeological research, have earned a rabid following. Just as famous as Loretta is her pec flexing, Fabio-like cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) who, much to Loretta’s annoyance, has been recruited by her publisher to accompany her on her latest book tour. In an outrageously silly plot device, Loretta is kidnapped by, who else but, a crazed British villain, in this case Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) and spirited away to a remote tropical island where Fairfax thinks Loretta can translate ancient hieroglyphics and lead him to buried treasure. Unfortunately for Loretta, it’s up to goofball Alan to mount the rescue mission.
This is neither a full-blooded Raiders of the Lost Ark-style archaeological adventure romp nor a parody of that genre. It touches on a few of the matinee adventure tropes such as sweaty villains maniacally pursuing ancient hidden riches but these really just service a tepid ‘treasure hunt’ storyline amid the rom com hijinks.
Most of the film involves Bullock and Tatum traipsing around the jungle bickering with each other while dodging Fairfax’s incompetent henchman. There isn’t an atom of spoiler in saying all of this is simply a prelude to them inevitably dropping their guard and falling for each other. Tatum and Bullock are likeably silly and have what many will no doubt describe as ‘screwball chemistry’ but they’re let down by a mostly unfunny script that too often has them muttering about mundane things they might be looking at. There are few really funny moments and too many gags fall flat. Daniel Radcliffe chomps on the scenery as the maniacal villain Fairfax but is neither particularly funny nor menacing. An hirsute Brad Pitt just about steals the film in a cameo as a genuine action hero who amusingly whoops most of Fairfax army of goons and they should have found a way to include him in more of the film.
This film is mostly a ridiculous lark so any attempts at straight drama just don’t work here. This includes trying to give Bullock’s character some emotional baggage through her occasional grief at the recent loss of her archaeologist husband, a sub-plot that has almost no impact.
While this is mainly about the relationship and quirky banter between the leads, this is an adventure film set in an exotic location, so the film’s visual impact should still count. While The Lost City includes a couple of striking shots of the jungle landscape, it too often feels as if the leads are strolling through a set filled with gigabytes of CGI.
Bullock and Tatum’s comic instincts, a general sense of fun and a smattering of passable action moments make this slight film watchable but it desperately needed a funnier and cleverer script.
Genre: Action adventure/ rom-com.
Director(s): Adam Nee & Aaron Nee.
Release date: 14th April 2022.
Running time: 112 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show