Movie Review: The Lost City

With TOP GUN: MAVERICK opening in a few days, Kelly McGillis is back in the news with a quote she gave in 2019 about why she wasn’t asked to be in the new TG film. According to McGillis, “I’m old, and I’m fat, and I look age-appropriate for what my age is.” Though TG:M director Joseph Kosinski has said that her exclusion had nothing to do with her age or her looks, the reality in Hollywood is exactly that. Unless you’re Judy Dench, old and zaftig women are not wanted on screen. Men, however, are a different matter. (I’m thinking of one actor in particular who seems to be mounting a comeback.) Bravo, then, to Sandra Bullock who, at 57, can still get leading film roles, though she has a few things going in her favour that McGillis doesn’t — an Oscar, money to produce her own films, a trim body and a good plastic surgeon.

Bullock is back with THE LOST CITY, where she plays a character who is probably a good dozen years younger than the actress is. In the film, Loretta Sage (Bullock, OCEAN’S 8) is the author of a series of romance-adventure novels featuring a fictional heroine, Dr. Angela Lovemore, and her Fabio-like love interest, Dash McMahon. As the story opens, Sage’s latest steamer has just been published and now she must go on a book tour to promote it. Joining her is her cover model, the hunky but dumb Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum (LOGAN LUCKY), and her no-nonsense publicist, Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME; OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY). After just one public event, Sage gets kidnapped by eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes that Sage’s latest novel holds clues to the whereabouts of a priceless treasure located on a tropical island in the mid-Atlantic. Caprison, who is secretly in love with Sage, decides to adopt his literary persona and rescue her. Though he’s woefully out of his depth, he’s given a bit of help from real-life action man, Jack Tracker (Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD).

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that THE LOST CITY sounds a bit like ROMANCING THE STONE, but this film can’t hold a tiki torch to its predecessor. This story is terribly underwritten with the two most interesting characters, Hatten and Tracker, being sidelined way too soon, and Fairfax’s henchmen doing little more than throwing a punch and scowling. With a few exceptions, the quips and one-liners fail to elicit anything more than the occasional chuckle, and the film’s highlight comes from audiences getting to see Tatum’s perfectly round butt cheeks in all their glory.

To its credit, Bullock and Tatum seem to be enjoying themselves here, and there a few scenes that I suspect needed to be shot a few times because of the giggling that must have gone on during the filming. I think there was a missed opportunity, though, by not having the two characters lean into their age difference rather than ignoring it or trying to convince audiences that it doesn’t exist.

If you’re up for some light entertainment that isn’t going to tax your brain, then THE LOST CITY will fit the bill. It’s not going to be remembered as one of Bullock’s better films but it’s harmless enough.

THE LOST CITY opens in Hong Kong on June 9th. It’s currently streaming on Paramount+ where available.

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