Directors Adam Nee, Aaron Nee
Screenplay Adam Nee, Aaron Nee, Oren Uziel, Dana Fox
Starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Brad Pitt, Oscar Nuñez, Patti Harrison
Sandra Bullock has controlled her career in an entertaining manner since passing the age of when actresses pass the age of being called in for new projects usually reserved for younger actresses. Like her contemporary Reese Witherspoon, Bullock grabbed the reins and drove on by others who were part of the Searching for Debra Winger class. Her success has less to do with her looks than her intelligence in finding material that suits her and getting talented people to work for her. The result has been a career of consistently smart films and here, one of the best comedies in years.
The story is unique, as far as treasure hunting films go: author Loretta Sage (Bullock) fights through writer’s block to finish the last of her romantic treasure hunting novels. She is widowed, heartbroken and without a desire to push her archaology knowledge on an unsuspecting public that is only there for the steam provided by her words and the cover model for the books, Alan.
During the initial stages of the book tour scheduled for her by her agent, Beth (Randolph), Loretta is kidnapped. Alan, who is kind of a vacant but kind model, takes it upon himself to help Beth locate her. They bring in ex-Navy Seal and CIA Agent Jack Trainer (Pitt, in a magical role) to get to and rescue Loretta.
Her captor is Abigail Fairfax (Bullock) who has way more money than sense. Abigail’s jealousy of his brother and resentment of his father makes Loretta’s knowledge of archaeology necessary as a means to an end. He has bought an Island in the mid-Atlantic which holds the key to the treasure of The Lost City of D (representing a word too hard to pronounce) which is where Loretta has been taken.
The rest of the film is fun, smart and aside from some incongruities of Alan’s character and intellect, a strikingly amusing comedy. The locations are filmed in the beautiful Dominican Republic. The path of the screenplay is not as well worn as one might think. There are familiar elements, but fortunately not as much of the film is tied up with mechanism and concentrates on the evolving relationship between the author and her model.
The chemistry between Tatum and Bullok is nice, even with the 16 year age difference. Finally the older woman is chased by a younger man. It’s not a simple romantic comedy either. Bullock’s Loretta has some real issues to work through, and she is good enough an actress that she doesn’t need to hammer the point home every free moment.
For his part, Tatum is on a comedic roll. He has already shown his comedic chops with the 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike fims. He’s great here, saving the awkward tonal shift in the middle of the film. He blends well with Bullock’s smartly beautiful skill at expressing herself through a variety of dangerous and funny conditions.
This is one of the rare films where every performance is inhabited by excellent actors that match the talent and skill of the leads. There is not a weak performance in the lot. This is all the more amazing when one considers the screenplay has four authors. Two of the authors are the director brothers. I have not seen any of their prior work but based on this film, I have hope for their upcoming Masters of the Universe, even if I never cared for He-Man before.
If you have any appreciation for the journey or even just the incredible skill of Bullock, give The Lost City your time.
(**** out of *****)