MOVIES about the search for a missing treasure is a staple in Hollywood, from the classic “Treasure of Sierra Madre” to the “Indiana Jones” films to Nicolas Cage’s “National Treasure” films.
Now comes “The Lost City” starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, which is more reminiscent of the hit Michael Douglas-Kathleen Turner action-romance flicks, “Romancing the Stone” and “Jewel of the Nile”.
Sandra plays Loretta Sage, a best-selling romance novelist who got depressed and has become reclusive after her husband died. She just won’t face the world outside her home. In the filmed excerpts of her books, Sandra also plays the heroine of her works, Dr. Angela Lovemore. Her books always have on their cover hunky model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), who represents her romantic interest, Dash McMahon.
To promote her newest book, her publisher, Beth Hatten (Davine Randolph), asks Loretta to do a book tour along with Alan. At first, she resists the idea but eventually relents and appears with Alan in an event where Alan’s fans insist that he removes his shirt so they can ogle at his naked torso. This ends in disaster.
Loretta leaves the venue but is abducted by an eccentric billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (Harry Potter, er, Daniel Radcliffe in a villain role), who thinks her books are based on the true researches made by her late husband, an archaeologist. He is convinced Loretta can help him find a lost ancient city in a remote island where a priceless treasure called the Crown of Fire can be found.
Alan, determined to show he’s not the dimwit everyone thinks him to be and he can be as heroic like Dash in Loretta’s books, then sets off to rescue her. He asks the help of Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt in a guest role), an ex-Navy SEAL and CIA operative, to help in saving Loretta.
Jack easily gets inside Fairfax’s lair and frees Loretta, but then, something else happens to him, which we can’t reveal here but it’s definitely part of the fun. Loretta and Alan are now on their own and they escape into the forest pursued by Fairfax’ henchmen.
The film’s climax happens in the island where they are in for some big surprises, plus a volcanic eruption. The film is not as exciting as other films in the genre, notably the more endearing Douglas-Turner movies, but what it has is the charming star wattage of its two stars.
Bullock has lately been doing dramas on streaming channels like “Bird Box” and “The Unforgivable”, but she has always been adept in both dramas and comedy films like “Miss Congeniality” and “The Proposal”.
Her comic presence elevates this throwback action-adventure comedy and Channing Tatum is obviously also having a grand old time playing a daft but well-meaning leading man to Sandra. He faces gun-toting thugs to survive and he is also so game in baring his entire backside in the scene where leeches attached to his buff bod. He and Sandra play off each other with much enthusiasm, never mind if she’s actually 57 and he’s just 41.
“The Lost City” is directed by the Nee Brothers, Adam and Aaron, who did the independent films “The Last Romantic” and “Band of Robbers” that both starred Adam. It’s good they’re given a big break in this mainstream action-comedy and they managed to make it hilarious, quite engrossing and entertaining. Will they eventually overshadow the Coen, the Farrelly and the Wachowski brothers? Let’s see.
They have made outlandish jokes and gags here perfectly tailored to its stars to carry the viewers along on a light-hearted escapade. It’s Daniel Radcliffe who fails to impress here, as he cannot register persuasively his character’s supposed menacing malevolence. Gosh, it’s really difficult to go against his Harry Potter persona. And don’t forget to take another glimpse of the goofy Brad Pitt in the end credit sequence.