Presented to international critics during the South By Southwest Film Festival last March, The Lost City is the new work by the Nee brothers (Aaron and Adam), with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox collaborating on the screenplay. The film uses a stellar cast of Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Brad Pitt and Daniel Radcliffe to create an over the top comedy, looking for a caricature of that “Dwayne Johnson” strand of action-adventure films ( which appears among the producers) such as Jumanji, Jungle Cruise, Red Notice or Journey to the Mysterious Island. Making a sort of parody of films that are already a caricature (of Indiana Jones above all), however, proves to be a risky choice.
The Lost City, the plot of the film
Widowed by an archaeologist with whom she had shared a passion for the same subject, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) has embarked on a successful career as a writer of adventure romance novels, full of spicy love stories and set in mysterious exotic places . At the presentation of her latest novel “The Lost City of D”, Loretta argues with Alan (Channing Tatum), the beautiful model who plays Dash, the hero of her novels, posing for the covers and depopulated among girls and women of all the ages. The writer leaves and abandons the interview, but as she leaves she is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax’s (Daniel Radcliffe) henchmen.
The eccentric billionaire is a lover of lost treasures and is convinced that Loretta – with her knowledge of ancient peoples that emerges from her novels – can lead him to the legendary “Crown of Fire”, kept on the island of the lost city that he himself bought. Secretly in love with Loretta, Alan decides to leave for the island; he turns to Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a former CIA and Navy agent, who sets fire to Fairfax base camp, but is killed shortly after. It will then be up to Alan, handsome but awkward, to prove that he can also be a hero in real life and save Loretta. The couple will have to cross the entire jungle of the island, constantly pursued by Fairfax’s men, and seek help, but along the way they will also find important clues about the ancient treasure.
A film broken in two (in three, in four)
What works in The Lost City immediately catches the eye and is the stellar cast. Sandra Bullock is comfortable in such a “light” role, Channing Tatum follows the parody of the alpha male, Brad Pitt takes it comically to excess and, above all, Daniel Radcliffe raises the bar, playing a British villain who is sad to see on the screen for such a short time.
Instead, what doesn’t work in the film is its “fragmentation” into several parts and its self-irony carried to excess. In fact, four The Lost Cities seem to coexist: the one in the first part, with its fast rhythms and continuous jokes, and the film in the second part, which instead forgets its caricatured nature and gets lost in the action for its own sake rather than in finding a treasure. Then there is a “third” The Lost City, with the parallel story of Loretta’s agent, Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), who embarks on a makeshift journey to find her beloved client on the island. This story is not only completely detached from the main narrative arc – and it only seems to want to “heal” the reduction of the comic line of the second part of the film – but rests on a stereotyped character. The fourth The Lost City, on the other hand, is that of illusion, that of the somewhat deceptive trailer: for Brad Pitt, present in several seconds of the promo, it is in fact more of an interpretation close to the cameo.
The Lost City therefore starts with the premise of making you live an hour and a half of light-heartedness, perhaps with a few laughs, placing itself as a caricature of the recent classic action-adventure films, which however were already, in turn, marked by the excess. If the gamble of this choice can be hidden in the first part of the film, it fully emerges in the second, and is certainly not saved by self-irony by the good comedic tempos but by medium-low contents to say the least.