“The Lost City” is a mad-cap adventure comedy that has its perks but doesn’t provide the thrill of the chase. You know what is going to happen, and yet you watch it through to the end. So, there is a comfort in the familiarity that the film carries. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum do bring charm and delight to the screen, and that is the soul of the film. Directors Adam Nee and Aaron Nee deliver a romp of a binge-watch that is formulaic and obvious but a treat to the eyes, thanks to the underlying romance too.
Loretta Sage, played by Sandra Bullock, is a romance novelist who has seemingly lost her edge after the passing of her husband. This, in turn, seems like a threat to her career as she struggles to write her new book. There is a certain physical awkwardness about her character that seemingly stems from her indecisiveness, which in turn leads to her inability to write her new novel. She lost her husband, who was her “partner-in-crime” and co-xenophile, and has since then been struggling the way we see her in the film. In many ways, she reminds us of ourselves, especially of the times when we were or are unable to decide what we want in life. There is this void or vacuum that we find ourselves in, and we accept our defeat in front of reality. However, it is extraordinary how life turns its tide and makes us go the extra mile against our wishes, only to reveal the gifts that it has to offer us. And this is exactly what happened to Loretta. She is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax, who wants her to translate some ancient writing that will lead to a treasure, the Crown of Fire, which she has mentioned in her latest novel, The Lost City of D. Alan was someone Loretta would rather avoid but she ends up liking him after realizing that he is nothing like she imagined. She ultimately falls in love, and that brings an end to all the chaos, making the film pretty much akin to a romance novel in itself.
After she is kidnapped, Loretta’s character’s sole development is her change of perception regarding her cover model, Alan. And it kind of makes sense for an adventure comedy. People need to enjoy the film more than break their heads over what Loretta feels and her pain. Well, we do understand that she is brewing sorrow inside her, but that’s not something unusual. It is something everyone goes through and has to go through. So that is where the film misses its mark. It doesn’t give its lead character a proper boost or motivation upon which to base its adventure. However, thanks to Sandra Bullock, Loretta is able to maintain her sweet awkwardness till the very end, and for a character like this, one can only do so much. And Sandra Bullock does full justice to the role, and we love her. We always have, and we will always have.
Alan Caprison, portrayed aptly by Channing Tatum, is the cover model of Loretta’s romance novels. He is a clumsy beefcake but shows a lot of emotional support. He might have addressed Loretta as a “human mummy,” which we too can understand why, but he knows what she needs and likes, e.g., her snacks, her shoes, and more. So, like a typical hero of romance, he is not just gorgeous but also has a caring nature. But there’s more to him than meets the eye, especially Loretta’s eyes. She judges him without knowing him, and there’s a point where he reveals that he was ashamed of himself for being the Dash that he was. But this was until he realized that people loved him for it, and he made them happy that way. That’s when he accepted himself. This he tells Loretta to do as well, i.e., not demeaning people who love her work by calling it “schlock” (cheap). These words are very true, especially for Loretta, who perhaps never realized how much people loved her novels. Their love for Dash, the hero of her novels, is basically their love for her, because, without her, there would be no Dash. It is this touch of positivity that makes Alan appealing. He is the yang to Loretta’s yin.
Beth is Loretta’s hard-pressed editor and caretaker. She is the one character whom we would have loved to see more of. Her caring nature, her attitude of taking no nonsense from people, and her congenial vibe make us want to have a friend like her. Da’Vine Joy Randolph does full justice to her character, and she makes even her most serious face seem funny. And the best part about Beth is that even though her words prove that she is very much a work-minded person, her sweet attitude underlines them and makes her a worthy friend to Loretta, who is in a constant forlorn state.
Daniel Radcliff’s Abigail Fairfax is perhaps the film’s only element that isn’t befitting. Perhaps the directors wanted to explore more of what Radcliff did in “Now You See Me 2.” But this backfires, and he feels out of place without either the vigor or the intimidation that such a treasure-monger should have.
Abigail’s motivation lies more in revenge than in acquiring the Crown of Fire. His brother Leslie was made the owner of the Fairfaxes company. And Abigail’s way of revenge is to become famous for owning something that no one else can, things that “defy possession.” He is unhinged in that he can be nice to a person, but he can also be indifferent to the greatest extent. However, his villainy isn’t pronounced as much in the film as it should have been, and it is sad indeed.
“The Lost City” does not really explore its characters as much as it explores the lost city of D buried underneath Isla Hundida. But this doesn’t take away anything from the film, which is able to hold our attention with its action, adventure, and silly punch lines that make it a comfortable entertainer.