Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Lost City

Movie Name:
The Lost City
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Aaron Nee, Adam Nee
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nunez, Patti Harrison, Bowen Yang, Hector Anibal, Thomas Forbes-Johnson, Sli Lewis
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
"The Lost City" is the latest project produced by Sandra Bullock, in a feature that takes her back to the romantic/action comedy that originally propelled her name in the 90s, with films such as "While You Were Sleeping" and even "Miss Congeniality" (which came out in 2000). The film follows the story of an author by the name of Loretta Sage, who writes romantic driven novels, typically featuring two characters, Dr. Angela Lovemore and Dash McMahon. Loretta finds herself on a book tour at the insistence of her agent, with an unexpected partner at her side, the male cover model that is featured on all her books, the dashing Alan (she has become somewhat of a recluse since the passing of her husband). While coming to terms with a disastrous beginning of the tour, Loretta is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax, a billionaire who is intent on recovering the Crown of Fire, a priceless treasure he believes to be located in a remote island. However in order to retrieve the artifact, he needs Loretta's ability to decode an ancient map, which he believes she can do since she performed actual historic research with her late archaeologist husband. Alan who is secretly infatuated with Loretta, recruits Jack Trainer, a former navy SEAL turned CIA operative to help rescuing her, while Loretta's agent tries unsuccessfully to convince the police of what's taking place. While Alan's cluelessness soon becomes noticeable, Jack manages to save Loretta quite rapidly, that is until he is killed. Loretta and Alan soon find themselves in the jungle trying to elude their captors while Abigail is hot on their tail. 
"The Lost City" is not without its charm, but it obviously instantly brings to mind the wonderful "Romancing the Stone", which was directed by Robert Zemeckis and came out in 1984. In both films we have slightly isolated female American authors who are suddenly thrust out of their comfort zones, and into the jungles in areas they're unfamiliar with (in "The Lost City" that is an unknown island, in "Romancing the Stone" Joan Wilder finds herself in Colombia). What worked out so well in "Romancing the Stone" was the instant chemistry between the leads, and the fact that the narrative felt effortless, a bit like a rehash of classic adventures, drinking inspiration from some of the serials of the 1940s and 50s, which also influenced Steven Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark", with a strong/resourceful female character. In that sense "The Lost City" ends up not feeling quite as fresh or quite as effective, since while both leads do have chemistry and play off each other quite well, the story is threadbare and doesn't amount to much. The creators of this narrative have also realized this, which is why the physical comedy is amped up quite a bit more, which can also be witnessed in the extended cameo by Brad Pitt, but for all its noise and flashiness of production values, what ultimately works best is indeed the moments between Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. The supporting cast of the film doesn't have much to do, aside from playing archetypes, including Da'Vine Joy Randolph as the agent, and Oscar Nunez as the eccentric pilot. The film knows these characters are as flat as playing cards on a game, and thankfully the actors try their best to bring them to life, but the film lives solely from the charisma of their leads, and the fact that it definitely doesn't take itself very seriously. The production team assembled is competent without being particularly memorable in its delivery. Somewhat competent, but also forgettable.