Despite an inspired cameo, The Lost City’s (2022) romancing the rehash should have stayed buried.
This review of the film The Lost City (2022) does not contain spoilers.
The Lost City has a fun premise for a popcorn, mainstream film. I thought this when it was called, you know, Romancing the Stone (now on Hulu, by the way). You have an academic turned romance author, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), continuously upstaged by the model they have chosen to be on the cover. His name is Alan (Channing Tatum), and he does not so much play the character named Dash as he poses for the camera. It doesn’t matter. Alan is the reason all the baby-girls (and baby-boys, for that matter) by the books. Yes, and not for the accurate settings, history, and subtext Sage brings to the genre.
The story has them practically in the middle of her latest novel. A young, eccentric, and spoiled billionaire (a dangerous combination) named Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) finds similarities in her story. He even manages to find the Lost City of D on a small island in the Atlantic. Fairfax then kidnaps her to help him find a legendary lost treasure. With the help of her manager Beth (Dolemite Is My Name‘s Da’Vine Joy Randolph), Alan manages to follow her by tracking her smartwatch. The only problem? Not only does Alan have to rescue her behind a couple of dozen armed henchmen, but from an active volcano that is ready to erupt at any moment. They can face certain death, and the treasure could be lost forever.
Their film can be fun and humorous, directed by Aaron and Adam Nee (Band of Robbers). That award can go to the film’s first 40-minutes because of a bit of stunt casting—an inspired cameo by Brad Pitt, who shows up as an acquaintance of Alan. The joke here is he is more Dash than Alan he will ever be. That’s not to say there are not as many laughs the rest of the way. That’s because of some genuine chemistry between the leads. Tatum’s Alan/Dash is humble but has a slightly exaggerated view of his importance. Bullock’s Sage has an ego that makes her feel she is more important than the books she writes.
However, this isn’t classic rom-com tension because Alan is sweet and caring, even if he lacks a certain intelligence that Sage prefers, but she eventually finds him endearing. The problem is the humor is not as consistent. Nee’s film has all the makings of a comedy romp, but the script has trouble maintaining a high level of laughs through the picture. The issue may be the script that went through treatment from two other writers. So even with a runtime of 92 minutes, The Lost City has trouble keeping pace. This highlights Randolph’s Beth, who has long speeches intended to be humorous that fall flat. Even when The Office’s Oscar Nunez shows up as a crazy cargo pilot, it comes off as nonsensical gibberish. Even Patti Harrison, the star of one of last year’s best comedies, Together Together, is disappointingly underused here.
You expect half-hearted plot points in a film like The Lost City. So, when a bad guy leaves an opening to save the leads, they do not face certain death but then leave their boss behind by boat, which doesn’t make sense. You may give them a pass. There are too many of those scenarios, however, to go unnoticed. Then, they may play it off as a joke to cover up that plot hole.
Still, the Nee’s The Lost City is enjoyable, and Tatum and Bullock display their knack for comedy they always had. If all you need is a brilliant Pitt cameo, some solid chemistry, a pair of handsome leads (forget the age difference, Bullock looks younger with every passing year), then this date movie will satisfy that craving. However, the way the entire story is half-hearted, over-the-top villains, and inconsistent levels of comedy may have you thinking the script should have stayed buried. It is nothing more than Romancing the Stone through a repackaged, studio lens that romances the rehash.
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