'The Lost City' is over-the-top and silly

By Richard Roeper on March 24, 2022

Let's start with the jumpsuit. The glittery, spangly, skintight, plunging-neckline, raspberry-colored jumpsuit Sandra Bullock sports throughout much of the loud and unfunny and flat and derivative Romancing the Stone knockoff The Lost City, as if she's wandered in from a mediocre 1980s sitcom. Bullock's Loretta Sage is wedged into that ridiculously constrictive jumpsuit as she tries to mount a barstool-type seat onstage, as she's kidnapped, as she attempts to escape her captors, as she stumbles through the jungle, etc., etc., etc.? Isn't that HILARIOUS?

Eh. Maybe for some. Comedy is comedy, and if you find this sort of light and dopey material humorous, have at it. Nothing wrong with an iced venti nonfat frothy drink of forgettable escapism. The Lost City is completely harmless as it attempts to revisit past-generation romantic comedy/action adventures such as the aforementioned Stone, Six Days, Seven Nights, King Solomon's Mines, The Mummy and, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it's so cartoonishly over the top that it bears no resemblance to anything that could ever happen in the real world.

In the maudlin setup for The Lost City, we learn Bullock's Loretta, a romance novelist with a serious background in history and dead languages, has been wallowing in a self-loathing, deep funk for some five years, ever since the death of her archaeologist husband. Loretta is sleepwalking through life and hates her career as a wildly successful romance novelist, as she considers her work to be trash and views her legions of fans with condescension.

Grumbling and protesting every step of the way, Loretta has been talked into squeezing herself into that garish jumpsuit (we're told that's the style these days for books tours, or some such nonsense) at the urging of her publicist, Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), who has also hired a social media manager named Pratt Caprison (the wonderful Patti Harrison, wasted), who Insta-TikToks-Whatevers every moment, capping off her comments with "Hashtag Shawn Mendes," cuz, you know, the kids.

Loretta takes the stage with her longtime be-wigged, dimwitted and Fabio-like cover model Dash - real name Alan (Channing Tatum) - who makes his entrance to the sounds of the bombastic stadium rocker "The Final Countdown." Things go horribly wrong, Loretta storms out - and she's kidnapped by henchmen working for Daniel Radcliffe's Abigail Fairfax ("It's gender neutral!" he howls), the sweaty, weak-willed, billionaire oddball son of a world-famous media mogul. Abigail has become unhinged because his brother has been chosen as the company's heir apparent, but he'll show everyone when he gains possession of the legendary Crown of Fire, an ancient treasure he knows to be somewhere on a remote island. Abigail could hire any number of highly trained archaeologists to interpret the swath of cuneiform he has obtained, but he kidnaps Loretta so we'll have a movie.

Thanks to the GPS on Loretta's Apple Watch, made by Apple, and did we mention it's an Apple Watch, Beth and Alan are able to ascertain Loretta's location. They enlist the help of Alan's acquaintance and former meditation class partner, a former Navy SEAL named Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), who actually possesses the skills Dash displays in Loretta's romance novels. With the squeamish, bumbling, cowardly but determined Alan tagging along (and Beth lagging behind but trying to reach the island as well), Jack knocks out a dozen henchmen and rescues Loretta, but then he's separated from the story and it's just Loretta and Alan out in the jungle (principal photography took place in the Dominican Republic), bickering and bantering and stumbling and falling and dealing with leeches and getting shot at and just maybe - JUST MAYBE - learning enough about each other to the point where a romance could develop. Meanwhile, Beth is flouncing around as the Wisecracking Black Best Friend, trying her best to reach Loretta and having no luck with various law enforcement types, who you'd think would have some interest in the kidnapping of a high-profile romance novelist, but no.

The Lost City breezes along in predictable fashion, touching all the familiar bases of this genre, as the scowling Abigail and his helpless henchmen pursue Loretta and Alan, who are learning a lot about life and love in their search for the Crown of Fire, and oh, there's a volcano that's about to erupt. If only Loretta and Alan could have unearthed a more interesting story, we might have had something.

The Lost City

Two stars

Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt

Adam Nee and Aaron Nee

PG-13 for violence and some bloody images, suggestive material, partial nudity and language