Lately, there has been an influx of treasure hunting action-adventure films that puts its characters knowledge base to the test to discover a lost artifact or city. Just a month ago the video game adaptation Uncharted made less of a splash than it was supposed to, not living up to the source material that inspired the adaptation. The latest addition to the genre, The Lost City doesn’t add anything new or groundbreaking to said genre other than another notch in the belt of an over-saturated sub-genre that’s growing like a weed.
Blended with the treasure hunting is a romantic comedy that provides more genuine laughs and heart than it has any business doing. Story wise however, The Lost City falls to the generic side with gaping logical holes that don’t make sense to the reality that these characters live in. A narrative like this has been done countless times before but what makes The Lost City worth a watch is due in large part to the chemistry between stars Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock. Tatum can have chemistry with a rock, the two pop on screen together mostly when the dialogue is more comedy based. The romance takes a back seat which doesn’t feel as organic as intended.
Bullock plays Loretta Sage an actual archeologist turned romance novelist reluctant to continue writing stories. It isn’t until she is abducted by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), whose parents love gender neutral names, in hopes to use her knowledge to find the real lost city in which her newest novel is based on. Full of puns about the male body and certain extremities (the writers find multiple opportunities to put in the jokes) that never get old, cover model Alan (Channing Tatum) makes it his mission to rescue Loretta and be the fictional Dash he portrays.
What makes The Lost City work so well within this realm is that it never once takes itself too seriously. The self-awareness works to the film’s strength as much as the comedic delivery between Bullock and Tatum. Trade in the dad jokes of Jungle Cruise for just the tip jokes from an actor most of us grew up with and you’ve got my attention. Borderline satire of the genre, screenwriters Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee and Arron Nee (the latter two serving as directors) aren’t bound by restrictions but with 4 people writing the script of a simple treasure hunting story, the result is ultimately too many cooks in the kitchen. But again, while enticing the journey might get your attention but it’s the performances that make the trip worthwhile.
Even more so is Daniel Radcliffe as the villainous billionaire. Commanding every scene he’s in, the Harry Potter actor has done well post mega franchise. Granted he does what he can with the role given to him but its believable. Abigail is written more to be the embodiment of René Belloq from Raiders than Antonio Banderas’s character in Uncharted.
Every scene is full of comedic line after comedic line. Sometimes, the screenplay is beating a dead horse while others its fresh that will leave a stitch or two in the abdomen. Adam and Aaron Nee even make Abigail’s tiresome and played out grand entrance unique – White people everywhere in their 30’s and 40’s will cry out over the waste of the endless charcutier board.
All that cheese and for what?
Where The Lost City loses its steam, besides the logical issues and unbelievable escapes from danger is when the story shifts to supporting characters. Beyond being given a funny line or two to deflect from the bigger tragedy of a person going missing – once the camera is away from the trio, I found it hard to care for the journey of Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) to rescue Loretta. Sure, it makes for a heartwarming moment when book publisher reunites with her star author, but the plan was to have Alan meet up with a mysterious massage enthusiast former Navy Seal turned rogue agent Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) to carry out the rescue plan.
Although it’s more of a cameo role, Brad Pitt steals the entire movie in the few small scenes he’s in. If the intention was for Pitt to answer a phone while eating chips as a call back to Tyler Durden than bravo, you got me, it worked.
The Lost City is exactly the type of comedy to keep people returning week after week to the movie going experience. What it lacks in story and logic is made up in comedic dialogue and self-awareness. The welcomed surprise is Radcliffe as a villain with a purpose. He isn’t there just to be a tool for the heroes to solve the mystery. I’ll gladly take The Lost City over Red Notice and countless others in the genre. Together Bullock, Tatum, Radcliffe, and Pitt all give wonderful performances – this is the treasure hunting mystery Uncharted was supposed to be.
Written By: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee & Aaron Nee
Directed By: Adam Nee & Aaron Nee
Music By: Pinar Toprak
Cinematography: Jonathan Sela
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Brad Pitt
Release Date: March 25, 2022
Running Time: 1 Hour 52 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
My Score: 3 out of 5