What do you get when you combine star power, stunts, romance, and an Apple TV+ budget?
The answer should be Ghosted, but the new film starring Ana de Armas and Chris Evans is less of a cohesive whole than a hodge podge of tired rom com & action stereotypes.
Clocking in at a bloated 116 minutes, the latest film from director Dexter Fletcher was written by four screenwriters (Deadpool‘s Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and Spider-Man‘s Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers), but has very little new to offer fans of either romantic comedies or action films.
Evans stars as Cole, an aspiring author who is called back to the family farm when his father (Tate Donovan) fell ill. Cole is a slightly atypical Evans character: he’s hot, charming, and funny, but he’s also far too clingy and has zero chill when it comes to texting (one of the film’s oft-repeated jokes is that Cole doesn’t consider emojis proper texts).
At the film’s offset, Cole is still recovering from the end of a previous relationship. His family, including super positive mom (Amy Sedaris) and cynical sister Mattie (Lizze Broadway), are supportive, but eager for him to get back out there.
Enter Sadie (de Armas), a customer at the DC farmer’s market where Cole peddles the family goods. The pair strike up the usual meet-cute/opposites attract over Sadie’s inability to keep a houseplant alive (another recurring joke and also a shorthand for her approach to relationships), which leads to coffee, a walk on the pier, and, eventually, sex (set to Dua Lipa’s “Pretty Please’).
Naturally there’s a lot more to Sadie than meets the eye. After she “ghosts” him (the film explains the concept, which offers an idea of who the intended audience is), Cole tracks her to London, where he is prompted kidnapped. That’s because – as both the poster and trailer make clear – Sadie isn’t an art curator; she’s actually a spy. From there on out, Cole is sucked into her dangerous world in pursuit of a MacGuffin weapon of mass destruction named Aztec.
None of this is particularly innovative or engaging, which leaves the film in its own dangerous position: without a solid narrative hook or great action, all that remains is the relationship between Sadie and Cole.
The problem is that the pair have very little chemistry outside of musical montages. Evans and de Armas are both charming actors in their own right and they are both convincing in the film’s many action sequences, but considering Ghosted‘s primary joke is the pair need to get a room because their combative chemistry is so palpable, its absence is a huge detriment.
This might be forgivable if the other jokes or the action or the narrative picked up the slack, but Ghosted is thoroughly mediocre in nearly every respect. From Adrien Brody’s underdeveloped arms dealer villain Leveque (Adrien Brody) to the atrocious green screen for the Pakistan set pieces to the egregious needle drops (action sequences set to “My Sharona” and “Uptown Funk”?), Ghosted feels thoroughly phoned in.
There are some pros littered among the cons, however. The aforementioned Pakistan sequence, in which Sadie must drive a bus backwards down a mountain, killing generic baddies as Cole struggles to hold on, is serviceable, as is the climax, set in a rotating DC restaurant that (naturally) goes haywire. And while Brody is unconvincing as the film’s heavy, Ghosted has a secret weapon in his smug, overly confident henchman Wagner (Mike Moh). The compulsory celebrity cameos vary, however: a trio of assassins in the Pakistan section offers one of the silliest comedic beats of the film, while the one in the climax undercuts the action and proves groan-worthy.
The Bottom Line: Ghosted falls somewhere between entertaining and aggravating. One wishes there was better chemistry between the gorgeous leads, or that the runtime was shorter, or the comedy a little punchier, but for audiences looking to kill a few hours in the comfort of their home, this is fine. 2/5
Ghosted is now available on Apple TV+