Coasting on the adequate chemistry of its two leads, The Lost City might stick with you for about as long as the romance paperbacks penned by Sandra Bullock’s character. In other words – not for long but you won’t feel guilty while it lasts. This isn’t a remake of 1984’s Romancing the Stone though it certainly feels thematically similar.
Like Kathleen Turner’s character in that action comedy from nearly four decades ago, Loretta Sage (Bullock) writes steamy love stories while her own existence is a lonely one. She’s recently widowed from her archaeologist husband whose work influenced her novels. After prodding from her determined publisher Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), Loretta reluctantly embarks on a book tour alongside Alan (Channing Tatum). He’s the cover model for her bibliography (think Fabio) and he’s known as Dash. His fame eclipses the author and she’s prepared to kill him off and retire to her bathtub with a glass of Chardonnay.
The plan hits a snag when kooky billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) snags Loretta. He’s convinced she can decipher a code to a lost treasure – make that Lost City – mentioned in one of her books. The locale is a remote one in The Atlantic so Alan pursues her along with the mysterious man of action Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt). Think of him as a bit like Michael Douglas’s lead in Romancing without actually being the lead.
Decked out in a glittery purple onesie that she wouldn’t dare don had she known kidnapping would be involved, what you expect is what you get from Bullock. Same goes for Tatum. Fortunately for us, they’re both better than serviceable. The supporting players elevate the material at times, especially Radcliffe playing against type and Randolph (so good in Dolemite Is My Name) providing solid comic relief.
Directed by brothers Adam and Aaron Nee, The Lost City often feels built from the spare parts of superior vehicles. It never crashes and burns due to the talent involved. Both Loretta and Alan have moments searching for the right words as their plot mandated courtship blossoms. I don’t have to search too hard – this is passable.
**1/2 (out of four)