The Lost City (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): A novelist’s unexpected adventure

“The Lost City” gives us as much as we expected from its trailer. Clearly influenced by Robert Zemeckis’ “Romancing the Stone” (1984), the movie tries a little comic adventure tale while playing a bit with its genre conventions, and the resulting entertainment is mostly enough for compensating for its many predictable aspects.

After the opening scene not so different from the similar one of “Romancing the Stone”, we are introduced to Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), the author of a series of pulpy but very popular adventure romance novels. Although she has been rather tired of what she has written for years, she manages to finish the latest entry to her ongoing series, and then she reluctantly agrees to go through a book tour as requested by her hard-working agent Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who steals the show despite her rather thankless supporting role).

One of the main reasons why Loretta is not so enthusiastic about her book tour is Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), a hunky lad who has been the model for the front covers of her novels. Although he is a lot different from the popular adventurer hero of her novels in many aspects, those numerous fans of her novels find him pretty sexy thanks to his good-looking face and body, and, to Loretta’s annoyance, they are all quite eager to see him taking off his shirts as usual when he is on the stage along with her.

However, that turns out to be a minor problem compared to what happens to her not long after that. When she decides to leave earlier than expected, Loretta is suddenly taken away to somewhere against her will, and that is how she comes to meet a wealthy British dude named Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). He has been quite obsessed with finding a certain important ancient treasure at some Atlantic tropical island, and it turns out that, as the wife and colleague of a famous archaeologist who passed away several years ago, Loretta may interpret one cryptic ancient message recently acquired by Fairfax, which will probably lead him to where that valuable item is hidden once she does the job as demanded. Loretta is certainly not so willing to help Fairfax, but Fairfax promptly takes her to that island, and she has no choice but to try to interpret what is given to her.

Meanwhlie, after watching Loretta getting kidnapped, Alan tries to locate and then rescue her. When it turns out that he and Beth cannot get any immediate help from the police despite knowing where she is thanks to her smartwatch, he decides to hire someone with a particular set of skills, and he luckily happens to know such a person. Although he does not have to go to that island for himself, Alan insists that he should go there mainly because he sincerely cares about Loretta’s safety, and we get some small good laughs as he clumsily tries to follow after that professional in question, who is drolly played by Brad Pitt.

It is not much of a spoiler to tell you that Alan eventually finds himself getting involved in Loretta’s situation much more than expected. While he bumbles more than once as he and Loretta subsequently attempt to evade the pursuit of Fairfax and his menacing goons, he really tries to help and support her as much as possible, and there is an amusing scene where he comes to think of a sensible way for motivating her enough to climb along a stiff cliff along with him.

As they bounce from one risky moment to another along the story, the movie provides extra depth to its two lead characters. While we get to know more about how much Loretta is still coping with the loss of her husband, we also come to see that Alan is actually a decent guy who is well aware of his limits, and we are not so surprised when the movie takes a little romantic break along with them at one point in the middle of the story.

Of course, things eventually become a little more tense and serious when Loretta and Alan are thrown into another peril thanks to Fairfax, but the movie keeps floating with enough wit and humor at least. I must point out that Daniel Radcliffe, who has admirably tried other things besides Harry Potter, often looks rather strained as trying to look bad and nasty, but he looks like having a ball with his petty villain role nonetheless, and his overacting somehow works as a part of comedy in the film.

In case of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, they are certainly ready to go for solid laughs from the beginning, and they have a good comic chemistry between them throughout the film. While Bullock balances her character well between humor and gravitas, Tatum, who can be sincerely hilarious as shown from several recent comedy films including “21 Jump Street” (2012), does not hesitate to throw himself into several uproarious comic scenes, and I will not deny that I was quite amused by a certain scene where his character must be almost naked in front of Bullock’s character for an understandable reason.

In conclusion, “The Lost City” does not bring anything new to its genre territory, but directors Adam and Aaron Nee, who also wrote the screenplay with Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, and Seth Gordon, competently serve us clichés and conventions, and I came to feel less tired while watching it at a local theater at last night. To be frank with you, I am already doubting whether it will be fondly remembered for a long time like “Romancing the Stone”, but it did its study fairly well, so I recommend it mildly for now.

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