Adventure films haven’t had the best go-around recently. Intending to harken back to the good ol’ days of Hollywood filmmaking, when original films were at the forefront, recent cinematic examples include the abhorrent Red Notice, the overly digitized Jungle Cruise and even the marginally enjoyable Uncharted all reeked of a forgotten sense of well, adventure. Often implementing green screens for practical locations, and in turn, losing that sense of thrill you can’t escape when you’re in a real location as opposed to a digital one. The Lost City, the newest big-screen adventure, and the first big-budgeted romantic comedy in seemingly forever, bucks the recent uninspired trend and not only does it utilize real tropical locale, but scores some welcoming good-hearted laughs in what feels like a much-needed hoorah in a dying genre.
Sandra Bullock is novelist Loretta Sage, known for her globe-trotting romance novels featuring the heroic “Dash” portrayed by hardcover model Alan (Channing Tatum). After a book tour goes awry with tensions between Loretta and Alan flaring, Loretta is kidnapped by eccentric billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (a game Daniel Radcliffe), to translate an ancient text in hopes of finding a lost city’s buried treasure. Alan then goes off to rescue Loretta and the two become stranded in the jungle on the run from Fairfax’s ruthless thugs.
The Lost City isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but it doesn’t need to. The formula taken from films such as Romancing the Stone and The African Queen is sufficiently updated here.
Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are an effortlessly fun duo and their banter keeps the film moving at a breezy pace, despite running a little long at 112 minutes. There’s a strong supporting cast featuring Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite is My Name), Patti Harrison (Together Together) and Oscar Nunez (The Office), but The Lost City is at its best when it focused on Bullock and Tatum.
Sandra Bullock is a pro when it comes to this sort of role and that doesn’t change here. Her physical comedy chops are as great as ever, whether it comes to sitting on a stool in a tight, glittery jumpsuit or being zip tied in the back of a tiny electric car with the door ripped off. Channing Tatum channels the goofball sensibilities found in his 21/22 Jump Street role, but with enough differences to not feel like it’s the same character. There’s an extended cameo from Brad Pitt as a badass ex-military operative named Jack Trainer who seeks to rescue Bullock’s Loretta as Tatum’s character has no combat skills. It’s an extremely funny role, one that’s really all too brief.
Director Adam & Aaron Nee bring a much-needed vibrancy to make this screwball comedy feel alive and inspired. There’s a slick style and enough sophistication to warrant a few earned nods to Robert Zemeckis and some of the production design is reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Obviously much of this is being filmed in a studio, but it doesn’t feel like it, which is more than I can say for most modern adventure films. There’s a memorable sequence with leeches after a swim in the jungle river. The climax is even sense at an erupting volcano.
The Lost City isn’t doing anything you haven’t seen before, but it does it’s thing well. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are a well-matched duo in an adventurous romantic comedy that won’t last long, but is equally funny and charming all the same.