The Lost City (2022)
The Lost City (2022)

Genre: Adventure and Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.

Release Date: March 25th, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee Actors: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Oscar Nunez, Brad Pitt

 


 

E

ver since her archaeologist husband passed away five years ago, erotic romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) hasn’t been able to rekindle the passion in either her writing or her personal life. With mounting pressure from publisher Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) to finish her latest manuscript, Loretta hastily concludes the story and begins her book tour. But much to her chagrin, she’s joined by Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the coddled, self-centered cover model who has become the face of her main character, Dash McMahon. When eccentric billionaire media mogul Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps Loretta and transports her to a remote volcanic island in the hopes that she can lead him to the actual “Crown of Fire” jewels mentioned in her latest saga, the smitten Alan is quick to give chase. Despite enlisting the aid of a rugged ex-Navy SEAL (Brad Pitt), the well-meaning but ill-prepared male model soon finds himself in need of rescuing just as much as Loretta, as the two attempt to evade their heavily-armed pursuers, the deleterious hazards of the jungle, and their growing affection for each other.

Sporting a hopelessly bland title, “The Lost City” is clearly a blend of Indiana Jones and “Romancing the Stone,” though it struggles to be even remotely as engaging. Opening with a shot of captured lovers facing certain doom at the hands of a menacing rival and an ancient temple awash with snakes, it cuts to the star lusterlessly typing out her latest swashbuckling romance, unashamedly nodding to both the aforementioned action classics. What she desperately needs for inspiration is for the adventure in her story to come true – and just like that, she’s whisked away for that exact scenario, complete with a hunky stand-in seducer (there are notes of “Jake Speed” in here as well). “This is like your book?”

“I’m loving this chemistry between you two.” Loretta is intellectual, refined, and sapiosexual; Alan is obtuse, intimidated, and easily drawn to the meaningless attention of girls admiring his chiseled physique. They’re polar opposites and she’s thoroughly unimpressed, which makes them obvious components of the central love story. Sadly, despite their intermittently convivial and comical patter, the romance itself is exceptionally dull; it’s as if the script must dance around their sexual attraction, not just because of the MPAA rating, but also as if there’s some unspoken inappropriateness to their connection – like when Jackie Chan couldn’t quite be shown as an earnest love interest in “Gorgeous,” since his costar was approximately half his age.

Also problematic is the artificiality of the villains, with the unspeakably wealthy, somewhat evil, pseudo-genius portrayed as cartoonish at best, and his henchmen mere comic relief, like supporting roles from the Austin Powers movies. The exotic locales, the occasional innuendo (which should have been piled on far more generously), and the one or two scenes of effective visual humor (the most exciting of which occurs near the beginning, leaving the rest of the picture to falter in a decrescendo) can’t save “The Lost City” from considerable genericness; the screenplay needs stimulation as pressingly as the romance novelist. The characters may be goofily unprepared for when their pampered routines transform into genuine perils, but they’re never in any believable danger; no one here behaves as if they’re in the midst of real undertakings – which might have worked if the whole film was a dream sequence.

Perhaps worst of all is an utterly extraneous assistant (along with her own unnecessary assistant), who gets wrapped up in light, separate misadventures, each one successively more unconvincing than even the nonsensically masterminded plights of the leads – unfunny stuff that seems to exist in a completely unrelated fantasy. By the end, this watered-down romantic comedy is just as forgettable as “Jungle Cruise,” “Red Notice,” and “Uncharted,” all recent actioners coincidentally boasting their own jungle-bound treasure hunts with diluted love stories and insipid antagonists. “I don’t care if logistically that doesn’t make sense!”

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10