By Josh Reilly B.
Hollywood has looked to recreate some of the original fun adventure films of the 1980’s on several occasions in recent years, trying to find the same magic formula as the first three Indiana Jones films or 1984’s Romancing the Stone. Some have been more successful than others, and even the Indiana Jones franchise (depending on who you ask) failed to live up to its previous standards with the fourth outing, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was released in 2008. More recently, films like Tomb Raider and Uncharted have looked to combine star power, high octane adventure, and humor (with some romance too, of course), and it’s this formula that is used for Adam and Aaron Lee’s The Lost City.
The Lost City stars Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, two actors that are no strangers to comedic roles. Bullock plays romance novelist Loretta Sage, a highly regarded writer in her field, who’s husband died five years before, leaving her in a rough state. Tatum plays Alan, the model for the cover of Sage’s novels as he poses as the main character, Dash. Alan takes his job seriously, and seems to believe that he’s Dash at times, perhaps even a little too much, which is a running gag throughout the film that is also teased in the trailers. The film begins with Bullock’s character being kidnapped by Daniel Radcliffe, a rich and evil man who’s intent on finding the illusive crown of fire. Radcliffe’s character, Abigail Fairfax, believes she is the only person who can translate a parchment that supposedly leads to the location of the hidden object. It sounds very Indiana Jones-esque, and that’s because it is; the directing duo lean into these classic adventure film tropes throughout (for good and for bad).
In large part, the adventure aspects of The Lost City are nothing special. The plot is often too predictable and straightforward, playing too much on the formula of similar titles that came before. At times, this is a good thing, as the attempt to bring a unique spin to the familiarity is genuine, but it plays a little dull and, therefore, too similar here. Still, the plot remains interesting in some parts, with the mere premise of a romance author being kidnapped and thrown into these new surroundings proving to be the kind of attention grabber that The Lost City needs. Beyond that, the plot, albeit too predictable, is the base that brings Bullock and Tatum’s characters together, and it’s this pair that make the film.
Tatum, who arguably did some of the best work in his entire career in comedies like 21 Jump Street, gives another great performance here. Despite his muscular and conventionally handsome appearance, Adam is more sensitive and anxious than one might expect him to be, and Tatum uses this unexpected contrast excellently throughout the film. He wants to prove himself to Sage, desperate to show he can be the superhero type figure that rescues her, but it’s actually Adam that needs saving more than anyone else in a clever trope used in the film. Bullock is also great in this film, especially when she is on screen with Tatum. As much as the script falls flat at times, the chemistry between its two leads saves the day to make The Lost City, at the very least, an entertaining watch.
Along with the plot, much more could have been done with the setting here. The location is simply a jungle, lacking all uniqueness and failing to be the type of iconic setting that the likes of Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone had. Even Uncharted, a film which similarly had issues with the plot of its mystery adventure, still played more with the locations the characters were in. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg appear in New York City, London, Madrid, Berlin, and more, and that the actors filmed on location helped sell this aspect even more. Uncharted itself didn’t seem to have much of a goal beyond telling a fun story starring these two famous actors, but even the Ruben Fleischer directed film succeeded more than The Lost City did in this regard.
Ultimately, though, The Lost City overcomes these issues to still be an enjoyable viewing, which seems to be the primary goal here. The star power of Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and even Brad Pitt in a memorable supporting role all elevate the film massively, proving to be the exact element that not only save The Lost City, but make it as well.
The Lost City succeeds at what is clearly its primary goal: to entertain audiences. There’s plenty of laughs to overcome a dull mystery and adventure plot, along with a semi-wasted Daniel Radcliffe (although it’s still good to see the former Harry Potter actor on screen again).
The Lost City is in theaters on March 25.
Images courtesy of Paramount