Directed by Dexter Fletcher — Screenplay by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers.
A romantic action-comedy from the director of Rocketman, with a screenplay from the writers of Deadpool and Spider-Man: No Way Home, and starring Captain America himself and the Oscar-nominated star of Blonde and Knives Out (who, notably, proved her action chops with a memorable appearance in the James Bond flick No Time to Die) sure sounds like a winning combination. Apple TV+’s Ghosted is a film with so much marketable talent that it has several major cameos that almost feel crammed in there. However, even though this is a project that has attracted a lot of talent, Ghosted is a largely ineffective romantic action comedy where neither the romantic, action, nor comedic elements work all that well.
Dexter Fletcher’s Ghosted follows Cole (played by Chris Evans), a needy and nerdy hopeless romantic farm boy, who meets Sadie (played by Ana de Armas), who claims to be an art curator, and, in spite of an intense early argument at a farmer’s market, falls for her. When she doesn’t respond to his text messages after they slept together (i.e. ‘ghosting’ him), he panics and decides to track her down in Europe because he thinks she could be the one. However, when he gets to her location, he is abducted by arms dealers — because she isn’t actually an art curator, she’s a CIA operative.
Allow me to get one thing out of the way quickly, I am absolutely the type of person who gets excited to see both Ana de Armas and Chris Evans in everything. I like them both a lot. They have that pull that gets me to watch something. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that. These two are also actors who know how to work together, as it is their third film together after Knives Out and The Gray Man — the former of which is a solid showcase for their chemistry. Unfortunately, their star power and their history are not enough to salvage a film that absolutely lacks chemistry.
Ghosted is a film that never gets off on the right foot. That is because the dialogue insists on a chemistry that is almost entirely non-existent (characters constantly tell them to get a room, and it is almost as eye-roll-inducing as hearing characters proclaim that their sexual chemistry is off the charts when that is never the case), as well as the one thing that Chris Evans just cannot escape, which is that he isn’t ever convincing as the hopeless romantic farm boy author who panics and flies to Europe when a person he got into an argument with (and then slept with) doesn’t answer his first couple of text messages.
As such the film never sells its central relationship or its actual main character, and instead, it just seems forced or disingenuous. Evans is going for something like Zachary Levi pre-Shazam, something Jason Segel or Paul Rudd-esque, but that just isn’t how Evans comes off. As for Ana de Armas, she is believable in the role of romantic interest to Evans and as a badass action star, but she is let down by the writing.
To add to all of this, the inciting incident is a little bit creepy (Evans’ character essentially uses find my phone for his inhaler to intentionally track a woman down who decided not to answer him), the MacGuffin feels generic and under-explained, the editing is wonky (there is a staircase chase that is a little bit embarrassing — and the leads’ meet-cute is cut in a way that makes you question whether or not they were actually on set at the same time) the tropes and its rom-com subgenre is a little bit stale and generic, and green-screened, phony backgrounds stand out like sore thumbs. The one thing that this film does have going for it is its cast and the genuinely surprising star cameos. There is an extended sequence with three cameos that are at first quite exciting but become a little bit too contrived and repetitive.
I think there may be someone out there who might think that I am being very harsh on a film with recognizable stars that audiences like. Maybe I am. But the problem is that if this film couldn’t hide behind its snazzy popular songs or its recognizable but, frankly, somewhat miscast actors, then exactly how much of a miss this film actually is would be even more obvious. This film’s warts are only slightly concealed by the sheen of stardom which can often be comforting as a late-at-night film to fall asleep to. But the stardom is a mirage and behind it is a really poor and forgettable film that doesn’t hang together all that well.
Dexter Fletcher’s Ghosted had all the right ingredients to make a real hit. Unfortunately, the film never comes together in a satisfying way. Sure, it is watchable (it would probably go down easily as a movie to watch in chunks or while you cook dinner or search social media — though not much more than that), but, frankly, one of its leads is clearly miscast and the essential romance part of the film doesn’t really work. To add to that, neither the comedy nor the action ever really hits (the most exciting thing about the film is a series of cameos that are completely unnecessary). For whatever reason, Ghosted is a rather empty film propped up by stardom. But stardom can only do so much, and it just isn’t enough here.
4 out of 10
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.