When did cinema become so serious? That’s the question I was asking myself when the first reviews came out of the US for Aaron and Adam Nee’s ‘The Lost City’. During a time when the box office is trying to recover from the pandemic, and seems to only be finding hits in reboots, sequels and superhero movies, the critics seem to have their knives out for anything that doesn’t fit into those three boxes. Firstly Jennifer Lopez’s vastly under-rated ‘Marry Me’ was unfairly treated and now Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s silly ‘Romancing the Stone’ style ‘The Lost City’ has received a less than rapturous reception from the US critics (the film opened there almost a month before it arrives in the UK).
Lacking enthusiasm for the books she’s churning out and embarrassed by the cover model Alan (Channing Tatum), successful romance novelist Loretta (Sandra Bullock) is kidnapped during the book tour for her latest novel. Alan witnesses the whole thing and decides to stage a rescue to prove that he’s more than just his looks and enlists the help of Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a fearless man with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. As Loretta is flown away to help find a long lost treasure for money-hungry Abigail (Daniel Radcliffe), Alan embarks on his mission to rescue her and the two of them are forced to team up in order to survive.
One thing to point out here is ‘The Lost City’ knows exactly what kind of film it is and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s not meant to be a future Oscar contender, it’s just two-hours of pure escapism and after the difficult few years we’ve been through is that such a bad thing? In short, no it’s not and the combination of Bullock and Tatum is a winning one. Their chemistry is reminiscent of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the 80s classic ‘Romancing the Stone’ and the plot isn’t dissimilar in places either. That also isn’t a bad thing. In fact it helps give the film a throwback nod that older audiences will love and it transports you back to the time when cinema was made to entertain rather than wow and win awards.
The film’s formula isn’t particularly original and the way the plot unfolds leaves little in the way of surprises but it’s that familiarity that plays in its favour. The pacing is zippy, the film is never in danger of sagging and it hits all of the beats you’d want it to. It’ll likely appeal to men and women too thanks to its nice balance of comedy, action and romance. The film is careful not to take itself seriously but it serves up some fantastic set pieces that will thrill audiences.
‘The Lost City’ succeeds in getting laughs from the audience, and believe me those laughs are plentiful. Bullock has always been a reliable force in comedy but Tatum really showcases his abilities as a comedic performer here. Predictably the pair evolve from bickering opponents to potentially something more, but that’s part of the fun here – you know what’s going to happen and you find yourself willing it on. Bullock and Tatum are so good together, that even when the script is rough around the edges, the two actors commit to it in such a way that you simply don’t care. Whether Loretta is pulling leeches off Alan’s buttocks or the two are accidentally causing someone’s death, you’re with them for the ride and that’s credit to the actors playing them.
Daniel Radcliffe plays against type as the villain of the piece, and for the most part he does a good job of shaking off his Harry Potter image, while Brad Pitt is a scene stealer as the ridiculously entertaining Jack Trainer. Da’Vine Joy Randolph is pure comedy gold too as Bullock’s put upon agent Beth who decides to set off in search of both Loretta and Alan when it’s clear the initial rescue hasn’t gone to plan.
‘The Lost City’ is a guilty pleasure of the highest degree and it was way more entertaining than I expected. It made me want to go on a binge watch of Bullock’s greatest hits and it made me look at Tatum in a different light. With thrills, romance and plenty of laughs, ‘The Lost City’ may not be high art but it’s the film we all need right now. Put your pretensions to one side, buckle up and enjoy a film that was made to be pure popcorn fluff. You never know, you may end up loving it like I did.
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph Directors: Aaron and Adam Nee Writers: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Aaron Nee Certificate: 12A Duration: 112 mins Released by: Paramount Pictures UK Release date: 13th April 2022