Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Lost City

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Best-selling author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is not really suffering from writer’s block per se, but rather just finding it hard to finish the latest installment of her successful romance-adventure novels because she’s emotionally drained. Another thing she dreads is doing the round of promotional tours with Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the cover model who gets a rabid fanbase of women lusting over him as the book’s fictional hero Dash McMahon. After storming out of the venue, she gets kidnapped by a pair of thugs under the command of eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) who claims to have discovered the lost city of D being referred to in Loretta’s books. He also believes that she is the only one who can help him decipher the location of a treasure called the Crown of Fire. Finding no help from the authorities, her publicist Allison (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and Alan seek the help of retired navy seal and soldier extraordinaire Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) who promises to rescue and bring the writer back within 48 hours.

The formula seems like a rehash of Bullock’s very own The Proposal. Replace Ryan Reynolds with Tatum. US immigration with Radcliffe. Even the flow of the story is somewhat similar: stuck-up boss lady forced to collaborate with a guy she hates and believes to be beneath her in what would go on to be a reluctant romantic comedy with a smattering of punchlines here and there, which unfortunately do not hit the mark most of the time. The film is fun nonetheless despite its obvious shortcomings but is missing something that made Bullock’s previous rom-com efforts more memorable.

As for the acting, Bullock is back in her element. The genre is familiar territory for her, and she navigates it with relative ease. The same could not be said of Tatum who has to rely on taking his shirt off along with some gratuitous butt exposure as an excuse for character building. In fairness to them, the script does attempt to present a good backstory for both characters, but the effort barely scratches the surface and is quickly ditched to give way to the adventure aspect of the storyline, which in itself is also lacking.

Perhaps it is Pitt who wows even with the short screentime he is given. Whether it was he or his stunt double doing all the action, those scenes with him in it are the only action sequences here that are legit and fun to watch. Maybe that’s also the reason why the storyline immediately drags on after his character is abruptly taken out of the equation, more of an extended cameo appearance to be honest.

As for Randolph, the character has potential but is squandered in the disjointed scenes in which she finds herself, eventually acting as some sort of deus-ex-machina to conclude the story. Her character could have been developed more, but eventually set aside to focus on the leads. Radcliffe, on the other hand, shines once again with an antagonist role even tough it feels like a rehash of his character in Now You See Me 2. It’s good that he is now exploring more diverse character choices after being pigeonholed for a decade as Harry Potter.

Anyway, most of the twists and turns are just too contrived; the romance angle rather forced and predictable. It feels like lazy writing overall even though there are some one-liners that come across as witty and deadpan funny. As for the more positive aspects, it is nice that the narrative tackles the creative writing process as well as trying to explore archaeology and ancient forms of writing, or at least appearing to do so. But maybe that’s also the film’s downfall. In an attempt to deal with too many subplots, it ends up getting lost in the fray. What you get is a hodgepodge of genres that do not satisfy.

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