The Lost City co-directors Aaron Nee and Adam Nee, who will next direct the high-profile live-action Masters of the Universe remind me of then-young Robert Zemeckis when he got the Back to the Future trilogy directing gig following his success in Romancing the Stone. And ironically, The Lost City shared the same DNA as Zemeckis’ aforementioned 1984 film. Or more specifically, it’s like revisiting Romancing the Stone and its 1985 inferior sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
Like Romancing the Stone, where Kathleen Turner’s Joan Wilder is a lonely but successful romance novelist, we have Sandra Bullock plays Loretta Sage. The only significant difference? Loretta used to have an archaeologist husband named John, who has died some time ago and now, she prefers to hole up in her own home feeling depressed and sulking all the time.
One day, her publisher, Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) pressures her to participate in a book tour with Alan (Channing Tatum), who is a cover model for Loretta’s adventure-romance novels to promote her latest book, The Lost City of D. Loretta reluctantly joins the tour, where she forced to put on a purple sequined jumpsuit that she doesn’t feel comfortable at all.
Long story short, it’s a mess from there and she manages to leave the tour as soon as she has the opportunity — a result that ends up being kidnapped while waiting for an Uber. She soon discovers that billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) is the mastermind behind the kidnapping and apparently, he needs her to locate the long-lost precious Crown of Fire hidden somewhere on a remote jungle island. When she refuses to cooperate, one of Abigail’s men drugged her to sleep with chloroform and put her on a jet en route to the island.
Alan, in the meantime, enlists the help of an ex-Navy SEAL Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) for a search-and-rescue mission upon finding out Loretta has gone missing. He insists to tag along while pretending as if he’s Dash, the hunky romantic hero from Loretta’s famous novel series trying to save her because, well, it turns out he has feelings for her.
The Lost City sure feels and looks like it was made 20 years ago, where it relies heavily on star power and of course, the familiar action-comedy and romance tropes. It’s like comfort food but with a little modern twist. The latter particularly rings true with Channing Tatum’s Alan, who doesn’t turn out to be a rugged adventurer like Michael Douglas’ Jack Colton in Romancing the Stone and its sequel. But more of a wannabe adventurer who can’t even throw a proper punch. Brad Pitt, on the other hand, has the honour to play Jack Colton-like role and he’s the single best thing in this film. From his signature devil-may-care persona to the way he casually takes down the bad guys with style to rescue Loretta, he’s undoubtedly a scene-stealer here. It’s just too bad he only shows up as an elaborate cameo and personally, it would be nice if his character gets a spin-off version.
Back to Channing Tatum, it’s the same old Tatum that (most) of us have grown accustomed to his acting style. He’s fun to watch here and he pairs well with Sandra Bullock, whose comedy repertoire is put into good use here. And besides, it’s been a while since she takes part in a lightweight role after venturing into the dramatic route in Bird Box (2018) and The Unforgivable (2021). Daniel Radcliffe clearly has a field day playing the eccentric-billionaire antagonist here while Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and Oscar Nunez round up the reasonably entertaining supporting cast. The latter two plays Loretta’s social media manager, Allison and an offbeat cargo plane pilot respectively.
Other than subverting what we usually expect from a lead male character in an adventure genre, Aaron Nee and Adam Nee are pretty much sticking to the formulaic structure. It’s not as memorable as Romancing the Stone and I think The Lost City could have benefitted from tighter editing, as evidently seen during the sluggish middle part of the film. But at least it manages to deliver an overall breezy fun adventure-comedy backed by Brad Pitt’s scene-stealing cameo as well as Bullock and Tatum’s amusing star power.
Remember not to leave your seat as soon as the end credits start rolling. Stick around for a while because there’s a surprising mid-credit stinger. Let’s just say it might lead to a possible sequel in the future.