“The Lost City”: Two hours of wasted potential

by Jacob Lewis, Opinions writer
photo courtesy of IMDB

There is nothing more exciting than sitting down for a movie with low expectations only to find the film a refreshing and unique take on an old genre; however, equally as disappointing is discovering a directionless movie with wasted potential. 

In the beginning of  “The Lost City,” an adventure-romance novelist named Loretta (Sandra Bullock) struggles to come up with a suitable ending to her newest book. Despite various approaches, she is unable to write anything that is not completely contrived. She soon gives up, finishing with absolutely no payoff. It’s ironic because the film itself suffers from the same problem: “The Lost City” benefits from a solid opening, but devolves into a cliche and drab storyline.

At first, the story seems relatively unique. Loretta is kidnapped by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) because she is apparently the only person worldwide who can decode a clue that leads to “The Crown of Fire,” a priceless artifact on an Atlantic island. The cover model for Loretta’s books, Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), devises a plan to save her. After an unfortunate turn of events, Loretta and Alan end up stranded alone on the island with Fairfax and his men, who are trying to track them down and catch them.

These first 30 minutes do not promise a masterpiece, but they certainly promise something better than what follows. The movie falls into a boring and predictable plotline which every audience member will have seen a million times. It is essentially a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” wannabe without the elaborate action, original story or charisma of Harrison Ford. 

The adventure sequences are eye-roll inducing, the attempts at humor, especially in the second half, fall completely flat and the character development is nonexistent. Radcliffe, an actor with the ability to take on complex roles, repeatedly delivers different versions of the same evil speech and has nothing else to do. Even Tatum’s dance moves, awkwardly injected into the middle of the movie, can’t charm the audience into overlooking these flaws.

This movie has one saving grace: Brad Pitt’s eccentric ex-Navy SEAL turned CIA operative Jack Trainer. Pitt’s portrayal of Trainer is humorous and unique, and his chemistry with Bullock and Tatum is undeniable. 

Unfortunately, instead of taking advantage of Pitt’s charisma and utilizing it to paper over the movie’s cracks, the filmmakers give him no more than 10 minutes of screen time before he exits. All the audience will do after he leaves is wish he would come back. Why would the producers spend millions on as high profile an actor as Pitt only to squander the opportunity?

None of this is to say that Bullock and Tatum are not charming leads. Bullock manages to maintain the momentum of the scene even when tied to a chair or slowed down by a sequined jumpsuit and heels. Tatum is effective as a dull-witted but lovable model who gets in way over his head. In another situation, they might pass as an unlikely couple.

However, neither of them can salvage the film from its slow-moving, predictable script. The filmmakers rip their relationship from the pages of the worst romantic-comedy screenplays and morph it into a jungle adventure. It is not the lack of fun performances, but rather the lack of originality that causes “The Lost City” to fail.

Stay home and watch a better Brad Pitt movie instead.