Thursday, March 24, 2022

No knockout for this rumble in the jungle

      Action, comedy, and romance are the hallmarks of many movies.
     The Lost City serves up generous amounts of each of these  ingredients yet still feels no more than adequate, possibly because the movie -- which pairs Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum -- doesn't provide its stars with anything that doesn't feel a little too familiar. 
    In itself, such a limitation might not be fatal but the movie also fails to sustain the comfort that sometimes makes formula movies not only tolerable but desirable, a feeling akin to stepping into a well-worn but comfortable pair of shoes.
     Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a successful author of romance novels who's sick of writing them. She's also sick of the model (Tatum) who has been posing for all of her book covers. 
    Tatum’s Alan appears on covers as Loretta's star creation, Dash, an adventurer with shoulder-length locks and a pumped-up body. Women love the books and swoon over Dash.
    Early on, Loretta is kidnapped and hauled off to a jungle island by a pampered rich guy (Daniel Radcliffe) who's given the unlikely name of Abigail Fairfax. 
    Fairfax's goal echoes that of many other villains: He's looking for lost treasure. He drags Loretta into the search because her late husband was an archaeologist and because a couple of ancient symbols appeared in one of Loretta's novels. 
    Neither provides much of a reason for kidnapping but then there isn't much reason for anything in The Lost City -- other than to dish out entertainment that floats in the wake of better movies -- from Romancing the Stone to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
     The initial kidnapping occurs while Loretta is on a book tour that has been arranged by her manager (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and another tag-along character (Patti Harrison as Loretta's social media manager.)
      Determined to rescue Loretta, Tatum's Alan follows. The two eventually find themselves tromping through jungles with motorcycle-riding thugs following in hot pursuit. 
      Among the movie's "big" moments: Channing bares his butt in a scene in which Loretta picks leaches off Alan's exposed body. Given a full frontal view (unseen by the audience), Loretta marvels over the size of Alan's ... well ... you know.
     Early on, the movie shows promise. Alan (in full Dash regalia) upstages Loretta during a tour appearance and when she disappears, he enlists the help of a mercenary played by Brad Pitt
     Had Pitt -- decorated with tattoos and a pony tale -- been in more of the movie, Lost City might have found a sweet spot. Pitt's Jack Trainer, a warrior and mediation master, has the skills of an adventurer that, for Alan, don't go beyond posing for book covers.
     Sadly, Pitt's appearance amounts to a slightly swollen cameo. That leaves Bullock and Tatum with the task of gradually igniting the sparks of romance.
     OK. No need to go overboard with negativity. The movie's comic byplay scores as passable. Moreover, the movie doesn't want for exotic locations. (Most of the filming was done in the Dominican Republic.)
    Adam and Aaron Nee (Band of Robbers) handle directing chores in breezy if not buzz-worthy fashion. 
   But the main attractions are Bullock and Tatum. They know how to work the material but the material ... well ...  that's another story and not a particularly inspired one.

No comments: