You can’t go into The Lost City without thinking almost immediately that it seems like a reboot/remake of Romancing the Stone, the surprise 1984 hit that rebuilt Michael Douglas’ career as a leading man and made Kathleen Turner the star she became. Originally thought to be a disaster, Robert Zemeckis, the director of that movie, was fired from pre-production of Cocoon.
Well, it was a hit. And Zemeckis had a Golden Ticket for his next movie, the iconic 1980s blockbuster classic Back to the Future. Not to say that Ron Howard, the director of Cocoon, is chopped liver. But sometimes the universe works in a mysterious way that benefits two parties equally.
Released in late March, just like Stone, The Lost City is the story of a reclusive writer, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), who has been widowed for two years and into middle-aged malaise. She was originally helping her late husband who was an archeologist with research and used some of the history to start writing historical romantic novels featuing Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) as a dashing heroic Fabio-like cover model named Dash McMahon. During a book tour, they clash when all the women who have turned out are more interested in Alan.
Getting into an argument with Alan, Loretta goes outside the hotel where the conference is set to await her ride share, but finds herself kidnapped by two henchmen, working for extraordianary billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe hamming it up beautifully) who claims that on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, there is a lost city with the “Crown of Fire.” Fairfax has used Loretta’s books as references and wants to use her to help his crew find the legendary treasure.
Alan has spotted Loretta being kidnapped by unable to follow her so he works with her publicist, Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) as they hire a mercenary, Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt in a neat, hilarious cameo) to use her smart watch to track her down. Not to give much away, but Loretta is rescued but finds herself alone in the jungle with Alan as they bicker back and forth running from Fairfax’s henchmen.
You’ve seen this story before in Romancing the Stone and its sequel The Jewel of the Nile and countless other romantic-action-comedies. And in a nice homage to The African Queen, there’s a scene in which Loretta must pull off leeches from Alan’s nude body. But what works is the chemistry between Bullock and Tatum.
Bullock hasn’t lost the charm she exhibited in her earlier roles in Demolition Man and Speed as she balances action and comedy. And Tatum has proven in the last 10 years to have a funny bone behind all his bulking muscles. He plays the role like he’s having a ball making fun of his younger days as eye candy. In fact, everyone in this movie seems like they’re having a good time. Pitt has a nice cameo and Radcliffe’s accent is like an American trying to do an over the top British accent. And Randolph’s Beth is given a nice subplot as she tries to track Loretta and Alan through the jungle.
What makes The Lost City work is you can tell that the actors had a lot of fun making it. In some ways, I would argue the movie is a subtle parody of the romantic-action-comedy genre. The directing brother duo of Adam Nee and Aaron Nee, who co-wrote the movie, give us enough action that is never too violent and comedic scenes where the actors work off each other rather than against each other.
What do you think? Please comment.