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'The Lost City' Review: An old-fashioned, star-driven adventure film that knows exactly what it is

If you are a fan of the two stars, or the scenery-chewing Daniel Radcliffe, give this cold weather diversion adventure flick a watch this weekend.
Credit: Paramount Pictures
Channing Tatum, Sandra Bullock and Daniel Radcliffe are among the movie's cast.

ST. LOUIS — Some movies don't have to shine like a crazy diamond or leave you with complex thoughts. Some movies only wish to entertain, taking your mind off more important matters and reminding you that humor has many different shades and forms. They locate a certain genre and gather big stars, creating a conduit for escapism. "The Lost City" falls squarely into that category of brainless, carefree entertainment.

From the trailer to the poster to the hype, this whole movie looked absurd from a distance. An old-fashioned, star-driven adventure film that was separated at birth from its 90s parents, "Six Days and Seven Nights" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the Aaron and Adam Nee directed movie takes you on a nice spring ride for a couple hours before dropping you off into the rest of your evening without a headache or yearning for something fresher.

The stars make this film fresh and fun. Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock are perfectly suited for their roles. Bullock is Loretta, the novelist who wanted to write about colonization and discovery because it was something she did with her husband, but fell easily into a more lucrative career of romance novel writing. Tatum is Alan, the dim-witted yet earnest cover model (and Dash, the male star of her stories) who dreams of being something more, both in his life and to her. As that frayed partnership reaches its end, a maniacal businessman (scenery-chewing Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps Loretta, demanding she take him to the "Lost City" in her fantasy stories that may hold some ancient treasure.

The result is a tongue-in-cheek adventure heist of sorts, with Loretta and Alan running from their captors with the help of a quirky mercenary (Brad Pitt) and her trustworthy assistant Beth (a scene-stealing Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and running into obstacle after obstacle. From there, the comedy takes over and the action takes a backseat. While Bullock and Tatum may not light up the screen with their romantic intentions, they do have comedic chemistry to spare. A scene involving swamp water and leeches gives the "Magic Mike" star a chance to show off his impressive over-40 physique, while an uncomfortable purple glitter dress gives the actress plenty of opportunity to show off her comic timing.

They can handle this material in their sleep, but the script gives them plenty of culturally relevant jokes and free style chances to make it their own. Star-driven vehicles used to be successful because it simply turned all the inviting attributes about their stars loose in a comfortable plot and genre. It's best to just sit back, devour some popcorn and let this easy-going flick roll right through you.

Count this as one of the few times a screenplay with more than two hands on it is actually a good thing. Oren Uziel, Dana Fox and Adam Nee all add different comic setups and perspectives to their writing, and it shows in the movie. There's more where this script came from, and that includes writing intriguing backstories for the characters.

"The Lost City" is indeed designed for the cinemagoer to get lost in its existence. You won't think too much about character motivations or the realism when Tatum is haplessly trying to be as heroic as Pitt's Jack Trainer, whom Alan idolizes maybe a little too much. It allows the co-lead to shut down that "White House Down" save-the-day mentality, instead leaning into the funniness of his character's situation. Bullock has so much versatility that whatever Tatum volleys her way, she shoots it back over the net.

My advice would be to turn off your brain, stop thinking about "The Batman" for a couple hours, and go enjoy a senseless, aimless yet entertaining treasure hunt. "The Lost City" knows exactly what it is and aspires to provide, so the goal is on you to recognize and go enjoy it.

It's currently playing at Galleria 6 Cinemas, as well as many other theaters in the St. Louis area. This is a theatrical only release.