Movie Review: The Lost City
The Lost City is about Loretta Sage, a romance author and researcher, whose book series about an archeologist and her explorer lover actually stumbles on a real lost relic. It turns out that relic is being sought by an obsessed billionaire, Abigail Fairfax, who kidnaps Loretta in order to get her to decode a bit of parchment that will lead to the lost treasure. Loretta's cover model, Alan, and her publisher, Beth, launch their own rescue mission when they find the response from authorities is not swift enough. The result is Loretta and Alan running through the jungle trying to avoid Abigail and his (not a typo. Abigail is used as a unisex name here) goons. The film stars Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison, and Brad Pitt. The film is written by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, and Adam and Aaron Nee with a story by Seth Gordon. The film is directed by Adam and Aaron Nee.
The Lost City is... "funny." It's not an action comedy that kept me in hysterics or even slightly sustained laughter. I liken most of the scenes to that phenomenon when a sitcom has a laugh track and the editor knows that a line is intentionally funny, but not the big joke of the scene, so they put in a bit of scattered laughter. It's like that. It's got a lot of humor that makes you nod and acknowledge that it's funny, but doesn't elicit a strong reaction. I think this comes with having so many passes on the script.
This may be getting a little too "inside," but bare with me, I'm going somewhere with this. In the credits of a film if there are multiple writers, there are ways to denote and assign credit to people. If, as in the case of The Lost City, there is an "and" separating two writers names it means most likely these writers had very little collaborative input with each other. The "&" between two writers means they likely worked closely on the details of their draft. A "story by" credit often gives the writer who originated the idea, or script structure their due, but it recognizes that the majority of their words have been changed.
Now, why did I bore you with those details? It's to give you evidence of why the film isn't truly funny as an action comedy like it should be. There were so many people adding and changing the fundamental nature of this script that its tone and the chemistry of the leads shifts bafflingly from scene to scene. Like Free Guy last year there were pieces of the story that really surprised me and made me long for better development, but are sadly dropped for the next funny thing.
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are charming people with a great deal of chemistry, but their romance is extremely forced. The part that I latched on to (long time readers will not be surprised) is that they had terrific platonic chemistry. They could be terrific friends for each other. He pumps her up and gives her confidence, she is understanding and accepting of his flaws that no one else will accept. There was a terrific love story here without the kiss at the end.
The Lost City has some incredible vistas, competent filmmaking from the brothers Nee, and terrific characters that feel fresh even if their archetypes aren't. It's a film you can escape with, but it's not a film that necessarily needs a big screen to see it. With the way things are headed, depending on the box office, you may not even need to wait more than a month or two before it pops onto Paramount+. I'd do it that way. Just wait for home where you can chuckle at the parts that are chuckle worthy and get more popcorn when they attempt a romantic relationship for the leads.