In The Lost City, Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum shine as bickering co-workers thrown into shenanigans, with brother directors Aaron and Adam Nee composing a likable romantic-actioner that promises equal parts peril and introspection. (Even if the latter requires just as much need for a rescue.)
We first meet best-selling romance novelist Loretta Sage (Bullock) struggling to conclude the latest entry in her best-selling series, The Lost City of D (get your head out of the gutter). The cover model for the series, a Fabio-esque looking figure emblazoned across the book covers, is the smouldering Alan Caprison (Tatum), a muscular himbo who – to Loretta’s dismay – does not express the same cynical views about being associated with ‘vapid’ escapism.
Believing the Lost City to be real and that Loretta is the key to uncovering the location of a mysterious treasure, disgruntled media mogul and billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) abducts the aloof author during her press tour. With Loretta held captive on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, the starry-eyed Alan takes it upon himself to lead the rescue mission, setting forth a series of shootouts and cute entanglements becoming of romantic capers.
The Lost City rides high off the back of fine performances from Bullock and Tatum, with both A-listers capable of bringing the audience to hysterics. This is most prominent in the film’s first act, with the Nee brothers balancing the right amount of chuckles, story and action. Bullock, unsurprisingly, nails every joke, reminding audiences of what a comedic powerhouse the Miss Congeniality star is. Not only does Bullock successfully tune into the eccentricity of the scene, but she empowers Loretta’s pessimism to express deep-seated despondency, bringing an additional thematic layer to the comedy.
The astute Tatum proves the perfect pairing to Bullock’s quick-tempered schtick, bringing to the role of Alan an absent-minded but well-intentioned charm. (If he were a lost puppy, he’d be a golden retriever.) Tatum is given ample space to play off his character’s himboism, though he is more than just a statuesque body whose immense beauty is played for laughs (and when these jokes are flung, they are executed to meaningful effect). This is The Foxcatcher (2014) star’s best performance, with the actor sinking into the character of Alan with an assuredness that has been long evolving.
Rounding out the film’s impressive casting includes the likes of Brad Pitt as steely-eyed merc Jack, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Loretta’s overworked publicist Beth, and Radcliffe as the aforementioned capricious villain, Fairfax.
It is when the film shifts gears into more serious territory – an act by the filmmakers to express character development – that momentum slows down, undoing much of the lighthearted vibe. When the laughs stop, so too does the film, with intermittent scuffles and rescues – however adrenalinic – unable to recover the film’s footing.
While the film lacks a consistent texture, there is no denying the joy in observing Tatum and Bullock’s engrossing chemistry. If romance is dead, Bullock and Tatum do a pretty good job resuscitating it.