Life has a funny way of changing your plans on the fly. For that reason I was a little late getting to “The Lost City”, the star-studded action-adventure comedy from directors Adam and Aaron Nee. While I do try to see nearly every major release, I wasn’t that upset about missing this one. Sure, I liked the old 90’s throwback look to it and seeing Brad Pitt ham it up is a plus. But for some reason “The Lost City” wasn’t high on my priority list (perhaps seeing the trailer 100 times in the theater wore me out).
“The Lost City” turns out to be a fairly entertaining romp, driven by the charisma of its three big stars, Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Brad Pitt. The movie starts strong and by far its funniest moments are found in the first 30 minutes. After that the humor dries up as the script (written by Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, and the Nee Brothers) tries but can’t quite squeeze out the laughs. Thankfully there happens to be just enough of a “Romancing the Stone” vibe to keep things fun.
Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a popular romance novelist who has closed herself off following the passing of her archeologist husband John. Despite struggling to find inspiration, the deadline for Loretta’s new book “The Lost City of D” is quickly approaching. It’s the highly anticipated final chapter in her hit series that follows the romantic adventures of lead characters Dr. Angela Lovemore and Dash McMahon. Her publicist and friend Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) already has a book tour scheduled which thrusts a hesitant Loretta back into the public eye.
To promote the book, Loretta is asked to appear with Alan Caprison (Tatum), her dimwitted Fabio-esque cover model who portrays Dash from her books. To her chagrin, the enthusiastic crowd is far more excited about Alan (and the prospect of him taking off his shirt) than her or her writing. A perturbed Loretta storms out, but while waiting for her ride she’s kidnapped by some meatheaded goons working for Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). He’s a weaselly billionaire with family issues who needs Loretta’s help finding a tomb containing a legendary relic called the Crown of Fire.
Fairfax zips Loretta away to a remote island in the Atlantic where he has discovered an ancient lost city at the base of a brewing volcano. After reading Loretta’s last book, he’s convinced that she can help him translate a parchment which will reveal the location of the tomb holding the Crown of Fire. But Alan proves himself to be a doofus with a heart. He hires former Navy Seal with weathermanly good looks, Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) to help him rescue Loretta and prove to her that he’s more than a cover model. As you can guess, hijinks ensue.
I won’t dare spoil things, but let’s just say the rescue doesn’t go exactly as planned. Loretta and Alan find themselves alone in the jungle with Farifax’s henchmen hot on their trail. Meanwhile there’s a not-so-funny side-story with Beth and a cargo pilot (Oscar Nunez) trying to find the island and help with the rescue. That’s not to say there aren’t some amusing moments scattered throughout the rest of the movie and Bullock and Tatum have decent chemistry. But the story kinda sits in one gear the rest of the way, and it doesn’t quite do enough to make it feel original.
In the end, “The Lost City” makes for a fairly entertaining way to spend 100 minutes. But though it starts really strong, the second half plays more like a copy-and-paste of past movies. Bullock is a solid anchor, Radcliffe gets a couple of humorous lines, and Tatum does his best. But it’s Pitt who steals the show. So much so that the drop-off is pretty significant whenever he’s not on screen. Still, there’s enough here to pass the time as long as you know what to expect. “The Lost City” is now playing in theaters.