The Lost City Review: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum's charming chemistry finds obstacle in incongruous script
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum's playful chemistry anchors The Lost City from drowning, making it a guilty pleasure watch. Read Pinkvilla's review.
The Lost City
The Lost City Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt
The Lost City Director: Adam Nee, Aaron Nee
The Lost City Stars: 3/5
If anyone would have to describe The Lost City, think of a 2022 version of Romancing the Stone, a cult 80s action-adventure romantic comedy that many have tried and mostly failed at recreating the everlasting magic of. Starring bankable actors with a penchant for comedy - Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, the Adam Nee and Aaron Nee directorial tries to modernise a popular genre by switching stereotypical gender norms, but does it delight as much as it promises to at first glance? Let's find out!
The Lost City chronicles the life of adventure-romance novelist Loretta Sage (Bullock), who is on the brink of a professional rut as she's not in love with her work as much as her fans are. She's also grieving a broken heart after the death of her archaeologist husband, which in turn decreases her love for real life adventures. At a book (The Lost City of D) signing, Loretta is taken to her limits, owing to the "all brawn and no brain" cover model of her books, Alan Caprison (Tatum), who she has an uproaring dislike for, and announces that she won't be writing any more books. However, that's the least of her worries as she's later kidnapped by flamboyant billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who needs her to help him find lost treasure known as The Crown of Fire, having tracked down the lost city mentioned in Loretta's latest novel, The Lost City of D.
Alan, with assistance from Loretta's publisher Beth Hatten (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and his meditation coach-human tracker Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), finds out Loretta's location and decides to embrace his fictional hero Dash's bravado, wanting to save her, although he's the complete opposite of that. Eventually, Loretta and Alan are able to escape, but the adventure junkie in the former has her simultaneously hunting down the hidden treasure, with an agitated, dramatic Abigail and his crew still hot on their trail. Traversing through the jungle, a body-hugging sparkly pink jumpsuit adorning Loretta and a 'take his shirt off at the drop of a hat' Alan learn to rely on the other as they quite literally become the characters from the former's books, with a role reversal, of course! While Alan's feelings for Loretta come out in subtle hues, especially in the sweet ways he looks after her, Loretta's inhibitions for her cover model dwindle down with every emotionally mature decision made by Alan.
While The Lost City overdoses on classic cliches, what works best for it is Sandra and Channing's natural chemistry. The two play off of each other's comedic strengths with organic ease; on one hand, Bullock makes extravagant use of her ability to ace physical comedy, while Tatum uses his obvious good looks to his advantage and translates that to witty humour like we're used to seeing him do. You're instantly rooting for these characters to work through their quirks and find what they're looking for in each other. And seeing Sandra (Just like Jennifer Lopez in Marry Me!) back in a romantic comedy will always be a joy!
What is a big obstacle in the stars' way, though, is The Lost City's malnourished script (written by the Nee brothers with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox), which feels as if it went through one too many rewrites. This is specifically seen when the funny one-liners are cracked by one character, while the camera focuses on another. Hence, the joke never really sticks its landing in spite of some really clever, humorous dialogues. One particular scene that the audience wouldn't mind a replay watch (No, we're not talking about the highly publicised leeches scene!) is when our leading pair have an argument over "mansplaining" and "feminism." If more such banter was there throughout, we would have had a different movie in hand, and that would have probably worked better. The Lost City (initially with the addition of "of D," pun intended, of course!) also doesn't really know if it caters to an "only adults" audience or a "universal one," and that translates to a clanky narrative.
In spite of the incongruous "lost in translation" screenplay, Sandra and Channing's characters are fleshed out well and it's a refreshing change to see the man as the "damsel in distress," whereas the woman is a cocky, sarcastic go-getter. This is something the Nee Brothers take complete advantage of. Amidst the superheroes and indie flicks, they know that casual viewers crave potboilers that are original, or as original as it gets, even if they're blatant cash cows.
When it comes to The Lost City's supporting cast, while Daniel Radcliffe seems tailor-made for the antagonist role, and he gives his theatrical all into his boisterous character, his character development lacks the gripping depth of any kind. In comparison, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, along with Patti Harrison as Loretta's woke social media manager and Oscar Nuñez as Oscar, an eccentric pilot, who comes to Beth's aid, are delightful additions to the overall storyline. The highlight, unsurprisingly, is Brad Pitt's memorable cameo (which lasts longer than his Deadpool 2 cameo, thankfully!), given how he's the exact representation of Dash in Loretta's comics and to pit the real macho in him against Channing's Alan, was pure comedy gold.
ALSO READ: Sandra Bullock admits she might consider breaking her 'no sequel' rule to make The Lost City 2
While the clunky CGI is hard to overlook, Jonathan Sela's cinematography in The Lost City makes up for it with an intriguing POV of the jungle, as Loretta and Alan's journey across The Lost City of D is indeed as magnificent as Loretta's words describe them. Even Craig Alpert's editing seems flawless as you never feel like you've watched an almost two-hour-long movie.
In finality, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum's playful chemistry anchors The Lost City from drowning, making it a guilty pleasure watch. And that's as good as it gets!
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