In the 80s, after the success of Raiders of the Lost ark, a series of similar styles of film entered the area, none more successful than Romancing The Stone, a romantic, action-packed comedy adventure. The genre has since burnt out, but it seems time to bring it back with The Lost City, which follows the same lines as the 1984 Robert Zemeckis film. However, while it’s nice to have this sub-genre back, this isn’t exactly the film that will ignite a reinvention.
Loretta is an academic who has resigned to writing a series of romantic adventure novels, the latest being The Lost City of D. Forced into a book tour with the cover model Alan. Loretta finds herself kidnapped by wealthy Abigail Fairfax. He believes Loretta’s book holds the clues to a Lost City and a jewelled headgear. Finding herself on a remote jungle island, a rescue plan has been hatched by the one person who doesn’t have a clue: Alan.
This throwback to the 80s is an almost carbon copy of Romancing the Stone. A writer finding herself in a jungle in inappropriate clothing (this time a sparkly purple jumpsuit) and being the only one who can find the hidden treasure, this starts off with great promise. The opening act, where we first meet Loretta, Alan, Abigail and the human tracker Jack Trainer, has plenty to enjoy. Yet it becomes increasingly apparent that the script doesn’t really know what to do with these characters, and, apart from contrivance after contrivance, it runs out of steam after the first 30 minutes.
The set pieces just never gel. An example is a rescue when Loretta, half tied to a chair, is wheelbarrowed out of the camp she’s being held in. It’s a funny idea, except they had enough time to release her from the seat, so the whole thing just seems a rouse for a few comic moments. The one memorable moment, in which Alan finds himself covered in leeches and Loretta has to remove them from his naked behind, is the high point but ruined by the one scene discussed and screened the most during its publicity.
The film really struggles with having the two lead characters be about as clueless as the other. There is no way they would be able to survive half the perils they face. With most adventures like this, one would possibly have some training or know their way about, even if they stumble into surviving a life or death situation. Here we are made to believe that an academic and a cover model could escape henchmen, bullets, and a jungle’s trappings while bantering with each other. This is shown up in the early scenes with Jack Trainer. It lacks any real excitement or genuine peril.
The cast is strong, but that doesn’t mean they can keep this from moving along. Daniel Radcliffe seems to be having a blast as the villain, Abigail and allows him to scream and shout so much that it looks like his neck veins will burst. In a cameo role as Jack Trainer, Brad Pitt steals the film from everyone. His action hero is hilarious and self-deprecating; the producers should have focused on giving him more to do. The film then rests heavily on its leads, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. While the pair are likeable enough, their chemistry is lacking, and the banter becomes repetitive and somewhat annoying. Bullock, who can play this kind of character with her eye shut, never rises above anything more than her usual schtick, while Tatum, playing the expected role set for a female protagonist, is fine. Still, he had so much more charisma in Dog than here.
The Lost City isn’t a total shambles, and there is enough to keep undemanding filmgoers happy. It feels somewhat shallow and desperate, wanting to be the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner classic but never coming close to its level of excitement, thrills and romance. A brave attempt to bring back the formula, but if there is to be a sequel, hand the whole thing over to Brad Pitt’s Jack Trainer.
2 out of 5
Directors: Aaron Nee and Adam Nee
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nunez, Patti Harrison
Written by: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee, Aaron Nee and (story) Seth Gordon
Running Time: 112 mins
Release date: 13th April 2022