The lost city2022.
Directed by Aaron Nee and Adam Nee
With Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Oscar Nunez, Raymond Lee, Thomas Forbes-Johnson and Héctor Aníbal.
A reclusive romance novelist on a book tour with her cover model is embroiled in an attempted kidnapping that sends them both on a fierce jungle adventure.
Acclaimed fiction writer Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) struggles to finish the latest in her series of dirty adventure novels. She also sees herself as the hero, as The lost city writers and directors Aaron and Adam Nee (this being their second feature after the modern reimagining of Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn gang of thieves worth seeking out) describe briefly in a visually creative sequence where characters and objects appear and disappear from the screen as Loretta types and deletes. One of those characters happens to be his sidekick Dash (Channing Tatum, rocking a ridiculous Fabio hairpiece), who seems to be the real draw of the stories these days given Loretta’s efforts. Doubly, given that Dash exists in real life as Adam, a role model who had the chance to serve as the cover for the books and subsequent media tours, usually ending up with thirsty fans. Soon it’s clear that Loretta’s husband recently died, explaining her lack of enthusiasm to write the next novel, until the point of an ending where the characters give up looking for lost treasure in the middle of the quest.
Following a disastrous ad where Alan fails to make a good impression on Loretta (she’s sapiosexual, and he, good intentions to die for, is all brawn and brainless), the latter finds herself walking into a kidnapping. The henchmen bring Loretta to Fairfax (a villainous Daniel Radcliffe who seems to attempt a performance that mixes unbalanced and eccentric, never really seen as a worthy antagonist), a son of a billionaire jealous that the empire be returned to his younger brother on a silver platter, who believes there is truth to the clues and treasure referenced in the latest novel. Indeed, Loretta and her husband also used to decode ancient languages and study these myths.
As such, Alan sees an opportunity to prove himself and make a rescue. The only problem is that he’s not a fighter either. This results in the dumb secret admirer hiring an ex-military puller played by Brad Pitt in a cameo role that is easily the highlight of the film. There’s certainly something amusing about watching the brawny Channing Tatum be useless, constantly getting in the way of this trained and hardened but dumb bearded soldier as he dispatches henchmen. Likewise, there is a lot of energy and playful humor to The lost cityfirst act.
However, the film hits a brick wall, hitting that brick wall hard. It is true that it is The lost city is aware that this is not a particularly unique or original adventure and instead focuses on the mismatched central duo. But this aspect is also mostly generic and formulaic, with Loretta realizing there’s more to Alan than just his physical stature and that he can put his mind to decent use in survivalist and resourceful ways. It also doesn’t help that Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum don’t generate much chemistry. They mostly play variations of the same character they always play, but never click a beat and bounce off each other to spark the dialogue. Whenever they’re offscreen, a genuinely pointless subplot follows Loretta’s manager, Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), in her own listless rescue attempt, functioning as another friend character from black support in movies with nothing to do but look for the hero in danger.
It’s nice that Alan doesn’t take over as the hero per se. There’s a late joke suggesting that Alan is the damsel in distress here, which is fitting since the movie’s funniest jokes underscore and riff on gender dynamics. Again, there is nothing suspenseful or even eventful about the treasure and its mysteries. One of Fairfax’s henchmen also mentions how the search for this titular lost city of D is disrespectful to its legacy, only to have nothing to do with that plot thread even when the story heads into a surrounding town. The story is just about Loretta and Alan growing up to love each other in a boring way and with compliments that go nowhere. He tells her not to belittle her writing by calling it schlock, which is interesting, except that the screenplay (courtesy of four writers, including the directors, of a Seth Gordon story) rarely explores the correlation between fatherhood and the adventure.
Going back to that first scene of a dynamically changing setting and the world as a creator writes it, that’s where the imagination is. Aaron and Adam Nee lack the confidence to build a story around their one inventive idea, settling for an assortment of rom-com cliches in a lifeless treasure hunt. The lost city also basically falls into a treacle pit once its electrifying cameo exits the story, sinking and sinking until one drowns in all the excess tropes.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter Where Letter boxor email me at [email protected]