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'The Lost City' makes some missteps, but still manages tons of fun

"The Lost City" might not be the peak of cinema, but it's worth your attention. – Photo by The Lost City / Twitter

A treasure hunt movie is always a good time. It’s pretty easy to create tension and drama as people get closer to their goal, and you can throw in any number of betrayals and double-crosses into the mix. All the while, your cast gets to travel to any number of interesting locales full of natural beauty and wonder.

There are a lot of great examples of treasure hunt movies — like any of the Indiana Jones movies, “Romancing the Stone” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” "The Lost City" starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Daniel Radcliffe comes into vine-swinging distance of most of those movies, only held back by a few flaws that keep it from true greatness.

Our story concerns Bullock’s character Loretta Sage, who has been writing a series of romance adventure novels, all featuring the same cover model, Alan — played by Tatum.  As the two set out on their latest book tour, Sage is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Radcliffe), who wants her to help him find a lost treasure that she references in her books. 

The rest of the movie has Alan and Sage attempting to escape the island, avoid Fairfax’s goons and find the treasure for themselves, mostly to fulfill a long-lost dream of Sage’s recently deceased husband.  

The movie is a romp from start to finish that dances along without slowing down for its entire 90-minute runtime. The directors, Aaron and Adam Nee, have only one indie film to their name, but they do the most with what they have in their bigger budget. 

There are some truly beautiful shots, and the rest of the film shows competency and skill that will hopefully be used in future projects. While it’s clear that they’re pulling from a wide range of sources, the most obvious being “Romancing the Stone” with its romance novelist protagonist, it still maintains a cohesive voice throughout.  

As for the cast, everyone is bringing their all to the film. Bullock plays Loretta with the grumpiness and impatience of someone at the end of her rope who's exhausted at the idea of having to still climb.

Yet, given her immense talent, Bullock is able to bring the vulnerability of recent loss to the role, but we don’t get enough of it to make it feel complete. It’s more of a backdrop than a true plot point.  

Tatum brings the exact opposite to his role as Alan, imbuing the character with a desperate thirst to prove himself not only to Loretta but also to himself. Later in the movie, when we see the deeper motivations of the character, we see the range of Tatum’s abilities.

He brings big puppy dog energy to every role he plays but underneath that is a soft bro energy that makes him all the more lovable. This leads to a realistic and palpable chemistry between Tatum and Bullock’s characters.  

Unfortunately, Radcliffe’s comedic talents that have appeared in the show “Miracle Workers” seem a bit wasted here. He’s a villain but without being particularly memorable or interesting, and he’s not missed through most of the movie. When Radcliffe does return, it makes you want him to leave again so that the funner characters can get back to being zany.  

The supporting cast, which includes Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Loretta’s put upon agent and friend that struggles to find her, is also a joy to watch. The exception being Patti Harrison’s Allison, who is a one-note slam against Millenials and Generation Z and their relationship to social media. 

She seems superfluous and kind of pointless, which is a shame because the character could have been more fun. As for the rest of the supporting cast, I just wanted to spend more time with as they struggled to deal with the nonsense left behind by Loretta’s abduction. 

The movie’s greatest strengths are its visuals and its cast's performances, even with a script that’s lacking. While the script is smart enough to know when to let certain jokes drop, made mostly about Loretta’s jumpsuit and the name of her book, it doesn’t go all the way in on its characters.

But the script doesn't ruin the movie. It’s still a fun, serviceable and joyous time, and I would highly recommend anyone reading this to go see it. 

Walking out of the theater at the end of it, I felt the same way I did when I watched “Ocean’s Eight” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”: that I just wanted to spend more time with the characters. They wouldn’t need to be going on adventures — they could just be hanging out being witty and fun.

Watching a movie like "The Lost City" is kind of like eating junk food: In the end, if you’re only complaint about a pizza is that you wish there was more pizza, then it must be have been a pretty good pizza. 


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