Feel for the Daniel Radcliffe fans. Presumably, it is hard to be a fan of the former boy who lived these days. His appearances as bit-part villains as he does in The Lost City or deranged action leads in Guns Akimbo are slim pickings for a career heavily dependent on Harry Potter and the variations of adventure that kid had. All grown up, like many a child actor, Radcliffe stumbles from feature to feature. It’s a shame to waste such variety, but The Lost City gives him the new role of “generic villain” to add to a charming list of underwhelming features. It wouldn’t be a Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock feature without a sincere depiction of mediocrity.
That is what The Lost City appears to be. A cash-in almost on the success of the Jumanji reboot and the video-game tie-in of Uncharted. An unhappy assembly of all those adventure tropes that would feel better suited to Congo than the star of Gravity. The understanding The Lost City attempts to present is that feeding cliché dialogue and running the gauntlet of adventure films is just the same as criticising them. Directing brothers Adam and Aaron Nee would be wise not to rely on that. Too little, too late, naturally, as the pair try and skirt around their obvious love for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark with the terrible caricatures of Jones-like characters and snake mockery.
It all comes through the easiest and noblest trick in the book, that of the struggling writer. Writing is easy, just look at how easy the words flow here. They don’t flow so easily for Loretta Sage (Bullock), an author with writer’s block and a fancy home. Drinking wine with ice and slicing carrots after five years of coping with her husband’s demise. A weep worthy setting that never takes off because of just how dull it all is. How conventional the loss and grief are, how it comes to life and falls apart, the dependency on Tatum’s heroics and the banal and usual mistakes of the romantic adventure hybrid. Not insultingly poor, but dreadfully underwhelming at the best of times. Forced dialogue between the two leads that lingers as both obvious yet startlingly transparent and simplistic. Its charms as a popcorn blockbuster are lost to the Nee brothers attempting to chase the highs of a rewarding character dynamic.
Unfortunately for the brothers, they forget to include interesting characters in this back and forth of random, littered events that somehow pull together. An adventure novelist on a real adventure, how quaint and exciting. Well, it would be had the adventure not felt like a riff on everything that inspired it. The Lost City hits all the hallmark notes of the action-adventure feature, with record-scratch moments that play Europe’s The Final Countdown and throw Tatum under the “Ken Doll” one-liner. Radcliffe appears ready to weep as Bullock rattles off an unfunny description. The old “not who you think he is” routine dragged down to the gutter ball whimsy of idiots. Welcome to The Lost City. Let audiences hope it remains like that. Lost.