‘The Lost City’ Review: Raiders of the Lost Genre

Struggling to overcome the death of her adventurer husband, romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) finds herself unable to work. With mounting pressure to release another quasi-historical disposable sex book, and growing frustration with her arrogant book cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) Loretta considers throwing it all in and retreating permanently to the safety of her home. But when treasure hunting billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps her, her only hope is an unlikely rescuer.

The Lost City is very clearly indebted to 20th century adventure movies and particularly Romancing the Stone. For the most part the tribute is successful as the film manages the same form of mild entertainment with occasional sparks of wit and excitement. What’s most apparently and unfortunately different is that The Lost City’s comedic relief is a very modern improv-driven humour that sees performers clumsily rooting around for a gag. It’s a shame to see well-written character-driven comedic scripts become so unfashionable.

The awkward humour is somewhat redeemed by committed performances by Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum who not only create engaging comedic roles but also have wonderful chemistry with each other. Daniel Radcliffe essentially revives his character from Now You See Me 2 as the boyish maniacal meglomaniac, only is far more effectively amusing here. Da’Vine Joy Randolph completes the cast as the amusing and exasperated publicist who spends the movie mundanely travelling to where the adventure is happening.

At the emotional core of the film is a fairly conventional message about moving on, putting the past behind you, getting out there and discovering new experiences. It’s fairly trite but is at least endearing when the character interactions feel authentic, specifically when they aren’t improving. The romance between Loretta and Alan is fairly well handled with adventure sequences challenging their dynamic and fuelling their conflicts. But if it’s more convenient for them to drop their roles in the relationship to suit a gag, then they shall do so.

The cinematography of the film is suitably stirring with lots of sweeping vistas and evocative use of jungle scenery, but there is something fundamentally wrong in the editing. Several sequences feel very jarring in their composition. Overly cut dialogue, strange inserts and some completely unmotivated cuts will cause the audience to feel whiplash as they try to work out what part of the mise-en-scene they have suddenly been transported to.

The Lost City is a rote but entertaining adventure movie featuring a few modern inconveniences. It doesn’t feel like a triumphant return to a lost genre, but nor does it feel like an adventure-romance movie in aesthetic only. There are plenty of thrills, laughs and feels to please, just don’t expect anything world changing.

Three Stars

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