Dir: Adam Nee, Aaron Nee. Cast: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Brad Pitt. 12A, 112 minutes.
Channing Tatum plays himbos like Mozart wrote symphonies. It’s a delicate art that involves much more than playing dumb. It’s about capturing the sweet, hurt desperation of a man who is aware of the pressure on him to fulfill some masculine ideal but doesn’t even know where to begin. The himbo, I would argue, is an underappreciated feminist archetype, a positive image of masculinity that simultaneously critiques the kind of wild expectations we place on men. It’s all about subversion – what he’s ultimately valued for isn’t the surface signs of dominance or caveman brawn, but the sheer goodness of his heart.
Tatum has spent his entire career perfecting this type of himbo, be it in the movies 21 Jump Street or Magic Mike. And finally clean The Lost City, he was paired with his ideal opposite: Sandra Bullock, the actress you call out to play very smart women who still can’t keep their lives together, who delivers in a way that’s relatable, as opposed to paternalism However, directed by brothers Adam and Aaron Nee, the film is presented as a 21st-century makeover of Robert Zemeckis’ adventure rom-com Romanticize the stoneit’s really the kind of project that sucks itself to its A-list leads like a barnacle on a ship.
Bullock is the rock-hard but lovable Loretta Sage, an archaeologist who has become an emotional trap after the untimely death of her husband. She’s now – in her opinion – down as the author of a series of steamy romance novels. Tatum is Alan Caprison, the cover model and now the public face of Loretta’s handsome creation Dash McMahon. She is easily repelled by his dedication to the role. At Loretta’s final book signing, he answers questions as if he had somehow helped write her work, before promptly ripping his shirt off. In a way, Alan has become a physical manifestation of her own self-loathing. It doesn’t help that her publicist, Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), insists that she show up to the event in a sequined jumpsuit so tight it forces her to shuffle around like someone covered in head-to-toe medical gear bandages is wrapped.
It’s not the ideal fit for what happens next. Loretta is kidnapped by the unloved son of a media mogul, Abigail Fairfax (a very funny Daniel Radcliffe), who is convinced that the tidbits of historical knowledge scattered throughout her books make her the key to finding the lost crown of the to find fire. The treasure is said to be buried deep beneath a volcanic island in the Atlantic, somewhere in the ruins of the lost city of D, which has recently exposed itself to the elements. Well, technically, as Abigail points out, “only the tip” is exposed. Expect a lot more innuendo as to where that came from.
The story here borrows quite heavily from her “don’t judge a book by its cover” lessons, sometimes in a literal sense – Alan chides Loretta for dismissing her books as nothing but dumb Shlock. But Bullock and Tatum are such dedicated romcom professionals that it almost feels a bit rude not to fall for their eventual romance. It’s nice to see Loretta warming to Alan once his self-imposed image of manhood begins to crumble as she tenderly rubs eczema cream down his back while outlining how she would describe the moment in one of her novels. The Lost City, for the most part finds the sweet spot between silly and sincere, especially in the scenes where Tatum’s Alan tries to take on the mercenary hired to rescue Loretta, played by none other than Brad Pitt. The star flips her long, blonde locks around like she’s back in Legends of Passion, and smolders with smug self-satisfaction. In response, Tatum wriggles magnificently.
Unfortunately, the further away you get from Tatum and Bullock, the more the film struggles. The fact that Patti Harrison, as social media manager, steals all of Loretta’s scenes just by being weird enough to call someone’s grandmother a “slut” underscores how flawed writing can be elsewhere. Randolph plays the black best friend whose entire existence revolves around the white protagonist; There’s an attempt to poke fun at the adventure genre’s implied exoticism that feels uncomfortably half-assed. But if you can force yourself to be short-sighted enough that nothing outside of its central romance matters? Well then, The Lost City plays like a dream.
The Lost City is in theaters now
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/the-lost-city-sandra-bullock-review-b2057165.html The Lost City Review: Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum once again prove they’re romcom pros