Perhaps most associated with their indie work within the mumblecore subgenre, the latest collaboration from filmmaking brothers Adam and Aaron Nee takes them into the mainstream. Action-adventure comedy The Lost City stars Sandra Bullock as Loretta Sage, an erotic novelist living a reclusive lifestyle since the untimely death of her archaeologist husband. After stumbling over the finishing line with her latest love story, she is to embark on a press tour with Alan (Channing Tatum), her shallow, muscular cover model known to her loyal readership as Dash. Following a disastrous launch event, Loretta is kidnapped by arrogant rich kid Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), the eccentric son of a billionaire who wants to take advantage of the author’s historic knowledge to track down ancient treasure.
As well as co-directing the piece, the Nee brothers have co-written the screenplay alongside Dana Fox and Oren Uziel, from a story penned by Seth Gordon. With a lot of writers onboard, there’s a bit of an inconsistent mix of humour in a narrative packed full of gags. They don’t all land, but the ludicrously devised premise offers up countless opportunities for jokes. Fight scenes are well choreographed by cinematographer Jonathan Sela who’s worked on Leitch beat-em-ups John Wick and Atomic Blonde, this time leaning right into the silliness with his heightened violence style. In particular, Brad Pitt’s extended cameo sequence as luscious-locked action-hero Jack Trainer is an absolute delight.
With lesser leads, this film might not have worked, but the material is elevated by the star quality of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. It’s very much as it’s best when they’re sharing the screen, riffing off of one another’s comic timing. As well as their skilled delivery of the script’s best lines of dialogue, they each bring strong physical comedy elements to their roles. A ‘leech-on-peach’ scene is a hilarious highlight, introducing a touch of gross-out comedy with great effect.
Off the back of an often stuffy and serious awards season, popcorn flick The Lost City is a fantastic antidote to this; mindless but very entertaining. It heavily relies upon the screen presence and winning spark of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, but they definitely deliver the goods, reminding us why they’re both class acts in this field of cinema.