The Lost City Review

The Nee Brothers’ new film is not only about airport novels, it’s also the cinematic equivalent of an airport novel.

The Lost City, as presumably Romancing the Bullock probably didn’t sound right, features Sandra Bullock as adventure novelist Loretta Sage.

Loretta is where all novelists would presumably like to be in life: supping wine in her ample apartment, alienated by her own massive success.

She also anachronistically uses an answering machine to play messages from her agent (Da’Vine Joy Randolph); didn’t that kind of thing end with smart phones?

Channing Tatum plays Alan, the goofy, life-embracing cover model for Loretta’s main character Dash McMahon.

Alan’s success is intrinsically linked to Loretta’s but they’re complete chalk and cheese. I wonder what will happen with these two!

Following a publicity event where Loretta announces she’s going to kill off Alan’s character, she is abruptly whisked away by treasure hunter and rich kid, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe).

Fairfax has read a little too much into Loretta’s latest novel and rashly concluded that she is an expert on a real-life precious artefact called the Crown of Fire. He needs her help to translate hieroglyphics which will unlock the artefact’s location.

Loretta doesn’t have a scooby what he’s on about so he holds her captive on a remote island until she complies.

As you do.

Alan, who witnessed the initial abduction, sets out across the Atlantic on a rescue mission. Capers ensue.

The plot is therefore a patchwork of various things you’ve seen before, but the cast helps this to feel quite buzzy if not totally fresh. Radcliffe enjoyably echoes previous villains he has played, and Bullock and Tatum’s star power and chemistry are undeniable.

There are various references in the press about the stars’ concerns that the script would be outdated, given how long it had been in development.

Sure, there are very faint attempts to subvert the beautiful-people-in-exotic-peril tropes: gratuitous clothes-shedding scenes are tempered by the fact that hey, Alan has mild eczema, and Loretta wretches at the sight of leeches. I guess these two anatomically perfect people ain’t so perfect after all. 

There are also contemporary gags sprinkled in, mostly delivered by Loretta’s social media assistant, and a surprise cameo helps to ramp the humour up to eleven; a surprise unless you’ve seen the trailer that is.

But ultimately there’s a thin line between being outdated and unashamedly harking back to crowd-pleasing comedies of old. The Lost City falls into the latter camp and wholeheartedly succeeds in what it sets out to be: a fun, smile-planting way to pass the time.

Conor Brennan

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April 2022