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‘The Lost City’ (review)

There is one Romancing the Stone, and many, MANY, attempts to recapture the romantic adventure energy between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in that Colombian jungle.

The Lost City pales in comparison but more in the way that rose is still a nice shade of pink. It’s broader, easier, and with minimal tension.

The easy listening version, if you will.

A reclusive romance novelist (Sandra Bullock) reluctantly goes on a book tour with the bumbling but good-hearted cover model for her books (Channing Tatum). When she is kidnapped by an eccentric wealthy treasure hunter (Daniel Radcliffe), the book tour turns into a jungle adventure where they are fighting against an uneasy volcano, mercenaries, and occasionally each other.

Everyone has played their parts so many times before.

Sandra Bullock can be a clumsy fish-out-of-water in her sleep, Daniel Radcliffe can do quirky but menacing all day, and when is the last time Channing Tatum was memorable for doing anything besides being dumb and cute (though awkward with women is a newer one)? And every single one is a whiz at physical humor. There is an extended cameo with Brad Pitt that gives the anticipation of a higher-energy caper, but the film settles into a slower pace that looks to check boxes on the way to their eventual romantic “a-ha” moment.

The entire film is well-trod territory so try as the excellent cast might, it can feel tired and formulaic in between the jokes. Even the threat of a volcano to create mildly high stakes is straight out of Romance Novels 101. Knowing this, every actor brought exactly enough for the scene, and only occasionally treated us with a few more ounces of charisma. The freshest takes came from Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who was a treat as the beleaguered publicist trying to get her star writer back.

Extras include several featurettes, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel.

Simple and straightforward messaging like “never judging a book by its cover” centers the movie, but the strength of the cast keeps the mushiness to a minimum over the near two-hour runtime. We do get a few brief glimpses of deeper work in Bullock’s mourning over her partner and Tatum’s solemnity in heart to hearts.

It would be impossible not to – all of these actors are great and performing in one of their most frequent typecasts.

There is a bit of beauty in predictability. It is comforting and entertaining to some degree, the kind of inoffensive Thursday night fare that used to be churned out far more frequently.

Is it the worst thing to go into a movie looking to enjoy it but knowing that you’ll be fine if you run to the bathroom or to grab a popcorn refill?

This film is at least five years too late for the cast they chose, but if you are looking for that breezy forgettable feeling, The Lost City is a welcome break.



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