Movie Review: ‘The Lost City’

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s not billed as a remake of ROMANCING THE STONE (1984), and perhaps that’s because it borrows from many adventure romantic-comedies over the years. Brothers and co-directors Aaron Nee and Adam Nee (BAND OF ROBBERS, 2015) have proven they can deliver exactly what is promised from a script by co-writers Oren Uziel (MORTAL COMBAT, 2021) and Dana Fox (CRUELLA, 2021). Seth Gordon receives a story credit, which is a bit ironic considering he has been quoted with, “The best stories are rooted in reality.”

Oscar winner Sandra Bullock stars as grieving, reclusive and highly successful romance novelist Loretta Sage, and Channing Tatum co-stars as her long-time and extremely popular cover model, Adam (in what is obviously a ‘wink and a nod’ to Fabio). Loretta’s love of history, and the passing of her husband, have combined to make her despise the books she writes and the publicity tours she’s required to attend … especially when being forced to wear a skintight purple/fuchsia sequined onesie. On the other hand, vapid model Adam relishes giving the audience what they want – strutting, hair waving, and bare chest.

After their most recent event goes sideways, Loretta is kidnapped by the villainous rich guy with a so-called gender-neutral name of Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). He’s read her latest book and needs her help in locating the ‘Crown of Fire’ hidden somewhere on a remote island he purchased for this reason. Things have to move quickly before the volcano erupts and buries the treasure. At this point, Adam is committed to rescuing Loretta and proving that he’s more than a pretty face. Loretta’s stressed out literary agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, 2019) is determined to save her writer-asset, while the newly hired social media director (Patti Harrison) acts goofy (and deserved better lines).

It’s regrettable, yet a sign of the times, that (2-time Oscar winner) Brad Pitt’s cameo is included in the trailer. This should have been a pleasant surprise for viewers, and instead is spoiled by the clip. He has fun with his role as former Navy Seal and meditation partner with Adam, as the two work towards Loretta’s rescue. The time on the island combines the adventure sequences with the slow-build of the romantic bond between Loretta and Adam, and both actors do their thing. It’s mostly Mr. Radcliffe who seems a bit out of place as he goes big in his role as villain, when some subtlety might have played better. Then again, there is nothing subtle about this production, including the scenes with Beth and an oddball pilot with a goat-fetish played by Oscar Nunez (“The Office”).

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum can play these characters in their sleep, and to their credit, they both seem engaged and willing to put forth the necessary effort. Tatum especially embraces the duality of a preening cover boy and the sensitive type out to prove he has substance. It’s an easy film to criticize, but why would you? It’s meant to be harmless fun and bring joy to movie lovers. It’s totally fine to make a silly formulaic movie when your objective is to make a silly formulaic movie.
Opening in theaters on March 25, 2022

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