Just when you thought you’d seen enough of Brad Pitt’s next film, “Bullet Train,” his latest slips onto the DVD market.
Sure, it’s not a “Brad Pitt” movie, but “The Lost City” finds him as an adventurer trying to save Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum from a wealthy opportunist.
Borrowing heavily from ‘Romancing the Stone’ and, oddly, ‘Jungle Cruise’, it squanders cast talent and frequently resorts to Bullock complaining about the sequined jumpsuit she’s wearing.
The best bits – including the one with Pitt – appear in the movie’s trailer, which makes the whole thing a bit redundant.
Bullock plays a reclusive author who agrees to do a book event with — get this — the model who’s been peeking through her books for years. Very Fabio, he steals concentration and, very early on, loses his long, flowing wig. When Bullock’s Loretta Sage is kidnapped by a crazed treasure hunter (well played by Daniel Radcliffe), Channing Tatum’s Alan tries to prove he’s more than his individual parts. He goes on a rescue mission, and soon Loretta and Alan are in the jungle trying to find a way out.
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Although most of the scenes appear to have been shot with green screen technology, Bullock still pretends to be clinging to a cliff, crawling through a cave and swimming underwater in search of lost treasure of which few people think it exists.
Radcliffe, meanwhile, immediately shows up, as if he has a tracker on the two. Luckily mismatched adventurers have a night they can bond and she can tear leeches from her body.
Directed by Aaron Nee and Adam Nee, “The Lost City” lacks the spontaneity or chemistry of its predecessors. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner projected a real swagger; Bullock and Tatum walk through their own greatest hits. She plays shy, clumsy and smart; he plays big, stupid and naive. Both appearances have worked better in other films. Here is what we have to endure until they can get out of the jungle and into a fancy hotel.
Both are good at playing type, but it would have been a better movie if the two had swapped roles and no one had mentioned Pitt before he appeared. It’s a real treat (in the same way it was on “Friends”) and that little boost that “Lost City” needs just when you think it’s in trouble.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who was so good in “Dolemite is My Name,” has a subplot here as Bullock’s handler, willing to move mountains to bring her home. She’s fun, but the Nees frequently ignore her, which undermines the big statement about managers and publicists.
While the true purpose of the film is never compromised, it might have been nice to make it less predictable than it is. As great as she is as a physical comedian, Bullock never really lets the glam guard down. She looks good even under the worst circumstances and shouldn’t be such a cinematic throwback.
“The Lost City” isn’t bad (it’s one of those harmless nighttime movies), just undercooked. If the directors had turned up the heat, it could have been the return of a genre. Instead, they’re just recognizable leftovers made from expensive ingredients.