- Director: Adam Nee, Aaron Nee
- Writer: Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, Adam Nee, Aaron Nee, Seth Gordon
- Starring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison, Bowen Yang
- Release Date: March 25, 2022
The Lost City Trailer
Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), a smartypants archaeologist turned paperback romance author, doesn’t want to leave her house after the death of her husband, let alone go on a book tour at the behest of her caring but pushy publisher/publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and painfully millennial social media manager Allison (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) (Patti Harrison, a star). Despite her reluctance, Loretta dons her ill-fitting glittery purple jumpsuit (which she borrowed) and reluctantly puts on a fake smile on stage next to Alan (Channing Tatum), the well-intentioned but dimwitted (and, yes, hot) himbo cover model who portrays Dash McMahon, the hunky leading man of Loretta’s books.
Even worse, as if being forced to leave her home in the first place wasn’t bad enough, Loretta is mysteriously kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), the psychotic daughter of a billionaire media mogul embroiled in a Succession-style rivalry with his more successful siblings. Abigail is hellbent on discovering the “Crown of Fire,” which she believes is hidden in the middle of a remote Atlantic island, and she believes Loretta is the only person who can decipher the treasure map. Alan, who is secretly in love with Loretta, boards a plane and enlists the assistance of Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) to rescue her from Abigail’s opulent clutches, which are hidden deep within the jungle.
In addition to being a great deal of fun and an essential element of the adventure genre, what distinguishes The Lost City from recent, more tired blockbuster adventure/comedy fare (looking at you, Uncharted) are the humorously human moments that foster a genuine connection between Loretta, Alan, and the audience. To avoid the semi-ironic “and then it happened” style of fourth-wall-breaking writing that is so prevalent today, directors and co-writers Adam and Aaron Nee repurpose classic adventure/rom-com tropes to uncover previously undiscovered gems through these personal experiences. They are well aware of the tropes that are being played with here—the dumb guy/smart lady romance, the frame story of Loretta’s novels, the treasure-hunting villain—but they approach these tropes with a freshness that draws the audience into the story and makes them care about the characters.
Instead of the usual emotionally repressed action hero or a sarcastic know-it-all rolling his eyes and winking at the audience, the choice to play Alan as a sweet-natured dummy with a surprising amount of tender insight is far more interesting. Non-stop laughter as Alan bumbles through the jungle is a highlight of the show, but it’s even more endearing when he reveals himself to be more than what Loretta initially perceives him to be. In place of his lack of street smarts, Alan possesses emotional intelligence and a gentle spirit, which Tatum isn’t afraid to exploit for comic effect. he tells Loretta as they sit around the fire, “don’t judge a book by its cover model.” In addition, this adage applies to how the film is perceived by the general public: don’t be too quick to dismiss The Lost City because of its blockbuster glitz and trite trailer, because there are so many hidden treasures beneath the surface.
Having no previous IP to tie it to any fan service expectations or predetermined outcomes is one of The Lost City’s greatest strengths. It is also one of its greatest weaknesses. Despite the fact that the romance between the two leads is unavoidable, the Nees have the freedom to explore the unique and emotionally sensitive romantic chemistry that exists between the two leads. As with a franchise film, we may be familiar with the beats of a romantic comedy or the plotline of an adventure story, but we have no prior knowledge of the characters’ identities, which allows for a sense of discovery that is all too rare in big-budget blockbusters these days. Even though The Lost City follows conventional genre beats, the film’s expert cast, which includes a stellar sense of humor, and the film’s innovative writing provide plenty of laughs as well as a romantic adventure that turns out to be a diamond in the rough.