Action Adventure

Review: ‘The Lost City’ is a Star-Studded Guilty Pleasure that Pays Homage to ‘80s Adventure Comedies

March 23, 2022Ben MK

The movie business operates on a cyclical timeline, which means that, given the passage of a sufficient number of years, what was once considered old and archaic is bound to become new and fashionable again. Whether it's a remake of a fan-favorite film or a sequel to a beloved cult classic, Hollywood has never been shy about going back to the tried-and-true well and using good old nostalgia to fuel audience interest. In the case of The Lost City, however, it's moviegoers' affinity for '80s action romances like Romancing the Stone and The Princess Bride that takes the spotlight, as Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum team up for a slapstick adventure that's as enjoyable as it is familiar.

Loretta Sage (Bullock) was once an aspiring academic and archeologist. However, when her husband passed away, she reluctantly abandoned her dreams and began churning out romance novels, casting herself as her own fictional protagonist who, along with a hunky male lead named Dash, embarks on escapades around the world in search of buried treasure and valuable artifacts. Now, five years later and much to the surprise to her long-suffering publicist, Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), and himbo cover model, Alan (Tatum), Loretta is ready to put pen to paper and finally write a long overdue ending to her series of successfully sordid tales. Unfortunately for Loretta, just as she's donned a pink, sequinned pantsuit and is about to call it quits, she's kidnapped by a billionaire named Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) and whisked away to a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

A megalomaniac obsessed with getting his hands on the mythical Crown of Fire, Abigail believes that Loretta is the only person capable of translating the ancient language of the island's tribes, which will in turn lead him to the location of the fabled relic. What he doesn't count on, though, is Alan, who's intent on proving to Loretta that he's much more than his alter ego, Dash. Enlisting the help of a freelance mercenary named Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), Alan sets out on a self-appointed mission to rescue Loretta and bring her back to the States just in time for their next book signing. But when things don't quite go as planned and Alan and Loretta are left to fend for themselves in the jungle, the pair must learn to put aside their differences and work together, as they attempt to make their way back to civilization, all while trying to evade and outwit Abigail's hired goons.

Directed by brothers Aaron and Adam Nee, what follows finds Bullock and Tatum channeling the same kind of blockbuster energy they respectively put into such comedy hits as Miss Congeniality, The Heat and the Jump Street movies, as their characters navigate the treacherous island terrain while they themselves happily chew the lush, tropical scenery. Yet, despite the welcome and oftentimes hilariously entertaining chemistry the on-screen duo bring to their roles, it doesn't quite manage to sustain the entire duration of the film itself, which attempts to give audiences the most bang for their buck, wringing every last possible amount of screen time out of a premise that — while sufficiently crowd-pleasing — gradually begins to run out of steam midway through.

Make no mistake, though, for there's still plenty to love about The Lost City, from Pitt's self-deprecating extended cameo as a rugged man of action to Radcliffe's delightfully sleazy antagonist, a part that underscores just how far the former Harry Potter star has come from his days as a boy wizard. It just goes to show that, while cinema most certaintly cannot survive without high art, there's still something to be said for movies that take the opposite approach, unabashedly wearing their desire for mass market appeal on their glittery sleeve.

The Lost City releases March 25th, 2022 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for violence and some bloody images, suggestive material, partial nudity and language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 52 min.

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