Ghosted review: Fun action romp, but nothing to simp over
Ghosted is lighthearted fun with some fantastic action sequences, solid chemistry between Ana de Armas and Chris Evans, and cameos that will leave you screaming – but two-dimensional characters and tired tropes leave it feeling a little flat.
Picture this: you’ve just had the perfect date. They’re funny, kind, captivating, and you go home with the feeling that you may have just found The One. You drop them a message to thank them for a nice time, but an hour later it’s still blueticked. So you try messaging again, perhaps a joke this time, maybe a few emojis. 24 hours go by, you try calling, a bead of sweat drips down your forehead as it goes straight to voicemail. It’s time to draw your own conclusion and save your sanity: either they’ve died, they’ve lost their phone, or they’re just not that into you.
This unfortunate phenomenon lays the foundation for Apple TV+’s Ghosted, an action-packed rom-com from Rocketman helmer Dexter Fletcher. Captain America’s own Chris Evans takes on the role of ghostee Cole, while Ana de Armas of Blonde fame stars as the mysterious ghoster Sadie.
After the perfect off-the-cuff date, Sadie leaves Cole hanging, only for him to discover that she hasn’t died or lost her phone – she’s actually a CIA secret agent. Oh, and she’s just not that into him either after he bombarded her with emoji chat. But before they even get a chance to hash it out, Cole – a farmer who’s never left the tri-state area – gets whisked away by his date on a dangerous adventure to save the world.
A rushed rom-com opening leaves a lot to be desired
Ghosted has an air of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except Brad Pitt’s deadly assassin is replaced by Evans’ damsel-in-distress simp. Though the gender-flipped dynamic certainly brings the laughs, the joke is milked a little too much, as are tired tropes that make it difficult to root for their relationship.
This is seen from the outset, when writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers introduce our protagonists. Everything there is to know about the characters is whizzed through within the first five minutes – on the outside, Sadie is fiercely independent, but the death of a co-worker has left her yearning for companionship. When her “therapist” suggests getting a houseplant, she replies: “I’d probably eat it. My cold empty house has a cold empty fridge.”
Cue Cole, a scatty farmer who is fresh out of being “dumped” by his last girlfriend. His friends are quick to remind him to be a “little less needy” next time, a trait that plays a massive role in his decision-making throughout the film. The character development feels slightly rushed – the superficial details might be different (Sadie’s into Monet, Cole’s a history buff), but we’ve seen the “guarded lone wolf meets quirky simp” types a hundred times in the past.
When Cole agrees to cover a plant stall at the farmer’s market, Sadie is his first customer, and they engage in a metaphor-filled quibble about how best to look after a begonia. She doesn’t want anything too “needy”, he thinks it’s unfair to “neglect” a living being – clearly they’ve triggered one another. But when she walks away, Cole’s friend jokes about the “sexual tension” between the pair and he has a change of heart, running to her car to ask her out on a date.
Everything about the opening fulfills the rom-com criteria. Within the space of 24 hours, they’re practically in love, having bonded over travel, movies, and art (of course). They have such a great time that Cole is left dumbfounded when, after sending a hundred post-date messages, he doesn’t get a reply.
Against the advice of his family, he decides to go stalkering his way to London to find Sadie after accidentally leaving his inhaler – with an added tracking device, a plot point that was shoehorned in just minutes earlier – in her bag.
And this is where the real action sets in. Anyone who’s left yawning by the opening scenes will be in for a literal awakening, as Cole is thrusted into a globe-trotting mission – whether he likes it or not – filled with gun fights, exploding trucks, and a passcode-protected substance that could spell the end for humanity as we know it.
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All-star cameos and thrilling action sequences build momentum
Though the writing is shaky and their incessant squabbling gets tiresome after a while, the on-screen chemistry between Evans and de Armas, and the humor they bring to their respective roles, is undeniable. Both with blockbuster hits under their belts, the pair are masterful at expressing the full range of emotions while taking out the bad guys. Notably, De Armas puts her stunt training to good use – she’s nothing short of a badass in the action sequences, which she carries out with finesse while still quibbling with Evans’ Cole.
The same goes for Adrien Brody’s Leveque, an antagonist who carries even heavier stereotypes, from his vague Eastern European-ish accent to his penchant for unusual torture methods. Embodying the hyperbolized villain you’d expect from a Disney animation, the character feels on-the-nose. Nonetheless, Brody does what he can with the character, and his presence is impossible to ignore.
But arguably the biggest draw of the movie arrives in its starry cameos, of which there are many. Evans previously teased some of his “Marvel buddies” are back for the movie – without giving too much away, that’s not all there is to look forward to.
Beyond the cast, the action sequences are a star of their own, with Fletcher delivering some big budget, James Bond-esque scenes. We see Sadie throttling a bad guy while driving a hijacked truck on a cliff’s edge as Cole stabs another with a cactus – a metaphor that features more heavily than the movie’s namesake. In another, the pair go up against Leveque’s cronies in the cabin of a private jet. Though the characters are flat, a number of these high-octane moments succeed in building momentum before ending with a climatic bang.
Unfortunately, the overall plot is predictable – you can guess where it’s going from the minute the action picks up. And the side characters aren’t given enough time or effort to establish any sort of emotion towards them. The main focus is on Sadie and Cole, and their burgeoning relationship, which feels difficult to root for when they spend so much time actively despising each other.
While things do pick up, nothing about their relationship feels particularly genuine. But maybe that’s Ghosted’s whole deal: it’s just not that deep. As is the case when you get blueticked by a date, perhaps it’s best to not read too much into it. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s not bothered by the fact that it doesn’t stand out from the crowd – so maybe we shouldn’t be either.
The Verdict – Is Ghosted good?
It’s nothing to simp over. But if you’re looking for a lighthearted viewing that ticks the proverbial boxes of rom-com-meets-action romp, Ghosted is the ideal chewing gum for the mind.
Could things be better? Absolutely. The plot is predictable and the characters two-dimensional, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an entertaining watch, massively owing to de Armas and Evans’ performances, explosive action scenes, and those all-star cameos.
Ghosted review score: 3/5
Ghosted certainly isn’t an action classic in the making, but it has enough going for it to be considered entertaining. Just don’t expect fireworks and you’ll be in for a fun time.
Ghosted will be available to stream on Apple TV+ from April 21.