The Lost City is a Paramount Pictures production directed and co-written by Adam and Aaron Nee. Novelist Lorretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) feels stuck in a rut; she’s grown increasingly sick of her highly successful line of romance novels and the grief of her husband’s death threatens to swallow her whole.
While on a press tour for her latest book, “The Lost City of D” (which also happens to be the film’s original title) Lorretta is kidnapped by the wealthy Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). Fairfax believes that the key to a lost treasure lies within Loretta’s books and wants her help finding it. It falls to Alan (Channing Tatum), the cover model for Loretta’s books, to stage a rescue – trouble is, he’s not equipped to protect her and she views him as a symbol of everything wrong with her life.
The adventure film’s slowly been making a comeback, with films like Jungle Cruise and Uncharted providing plenty of thrills and chemistry between its leads – well, at least Jungle Cruise does. The Nees, along with co-writers Orien Uziel, Dana Fox, and Seth Gordon (who conceived the story), fully understand the tropes of the genre and how to subvert them. The male lead, who usually takes charge and has a wealth of skills, is in way over his head. The female lead, usually placed in distress, turns out to be extremely resourceful and clever. There’s even a twist surrounding the artifact that all parties are seeking that I won’t spoil, but it’s a perfect fit for the underlying themes of love that run through the film.
Speaking of love, the major draw of the film – and the main thing that keeps it running – is the chemistry between Bullock and Tatum. Bullock’s no stranger to wild twists on genre or working as part of an odd couple, as fans of The Proposal and The Heat can attest. But in The Lost City, she plays Loretta as more emotionally bruised than her previous characters. This is a woman who prefers to spend her nights in the bathtub with a glass of chardonnay and is ready to close the book on a successful series despite the advice of her publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
Tatum has the chance to enter full himbo mode here and he goes for it with gusto; even though he can’t match opponents in hand-to-hand combat, he makes sure to bring Loretta her favorite snacks and some more sensible footwear for the jungle. The duo also takes part in some hilarious moments, including Tatum freaking out when leeches attach themselves to his rear end and Bullock rocking a sparkling purple sequined jumpsuit for half the movie.
Make no mistake, The Lost City is an action-comedy and it embraces both halves of that equation. An attempt by Alan to infiltrate Fairfax’s camp and rescue Loretta doesn’t go so hot, as he’s no match for the trained mercenaries patrolling the boundaries. A chase scene has Alan using a motorcycle that’s ten years past its prime, with a busted muffler and a speed of about 20 miles an hour. And in perhaps the most hilarious bit, when Loretta tosses a gun to Alan, he ducks instead of catching it. What makes this work is the pacing; at just under two hours, the film knows how to spread out its major story beats to keep the audience invested in said story.
The one aspect of the film that may split viewers is Radcliffe’s performance as Fairfax. Personally, I think he does a great job of playing a rich white man who’s out of touch and grows more and more unhinged as the film progresses. Viewers may wonder why this is the one element of the adventure genre The Lost City plays straight, but Radcliffe sinks his teeth into the role along with a fair bit of the scenery.
As Beth, Randolph gets her own subplot that finds her traveling to the same island that the City of D is located; this is the one part of the film that could have used some fleshing out. And I don’t want to spoil Brad Pitt‘s role in the film, but the Nees make perfect use of him.
The Lost City is a wildly entertaining riff on the adventure/romance genre, thanks to the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. It’s a perfect date night movie, the perfect counter-programming to bigger blockbusters like The Batman, and it’s a genuine surprise in terms of entertainment. If you wish more movies were like the 1999 version of The Mummy or enjoyed Romancing The Stone, this is the film for you.
The Lost City had its world premiere at SXSW 2022 and will premiere in theaters nationwide on March 25, 2022.
The Lost City
The Lost City is a wildly entertaining riff on the adventure/romance genre, thanks to the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. It’s a perfect date night movie, the perfect counter-programming to bigger blockbusters like The Batman, and it’s a genuine surprise in terms of entertainment.