Released: 21st April
Seen: 24th April

Sometimes a film feels like it should be basically impossible to mess up, a combination of a great director, great writers and great actors that seems like at the bare minimum it should produce a piece of fun, harmless entertainment that’ll deliver on what it promises. Say you have the director of one of the best biopic films ever, gave him a film written by the people who wrote two major superhero franchise films and a pair of actors who have proven to have chemistry before who are also wildly popular and insanely talented. That sounds like a recipe for success, a surefire way to make something that’s at least on the surface level enjoyable… so what the hell went wrong with Ghostedyou to make it as dull as it is?

Ghosted begins as a substandard romance story with your classic setup, Cole Turner (Chris Evans) is a farmer who sells his produce at a local market where he runs into, and needlessly argues with, Sadie Rhodes (Ana de Armas). As is standard with this genre the arguing turns into flirting which turns into a date and eventually sleeping together. Things seem to be going exactly as expected when Sadie stops returning Cole’s texts, of which he sends many.  

After a while, believing he’s been ghosted and wanting a chance to confront the person who ghosted him (because that always goes well), Cole figures out a way to track down Sadie who is apparently somewhere in England. Because this is a rom-com and normal rules and sane behaviours don’t apply, Cole flies to England to try and find this woman he had a one-night stand with only to learn that she’s actually a CIA agent on a mission to get some world-ending device known as Aztec from an arms dealer named Leveque (Adrien Brody). Alleged shenanigans ensue, forcing this fighting pair of halfwits to try to save the world in a way that makes you wonder if the world is worth saving.

Admittedly there is a little bit of hyperbole going on in my irritated description of the story of Ghosted but that’s because it’s so dull that it’s somehow even more offensive than if it was actively bad. This should be such an effortlessly fun film, an action romance starring Ana De Armas and Chris Evans written by the people who handled Deadpool and the Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy under the direction of the guy who made Rocketman… this film has a cast and crew that should be aimed directly at me, this should, in theory, be a film that delights me more than anyone else and yet everyone dropped the ball here. EVERYONE.

Starting on a script level, Ghosted is lifeless. The banter is weak and resorts to cliche yelling “You lied to me” every couple of minutes in case the audience forgot. There are no fun memorable lines or cheesy villain monologues or any original ideas here that might make this film stand out, it’s a bargain basement first draft script that basically just goes through the motions with little fanfare. There is exactly one set piece in the film that’s actually fun and it mostly relies on Chris Evans having several Marvel people in his phone who could turn up to do a bit where they kill each other one after another. The best joke in the film and it relies entirely on cameos… great job there.

Ghosted (2023) - Chris Evans, Ana de Armas
Ghosted (2023) – Chris Evans, Ana de Armas

Speaking of Evans, how the hell do you make Chris Evans into an unlikable asshole? How? This man has played murderers and somehow made them likable. This man has played villains and been the most enjoyable part of the movie… in Ghosted, it’s hard not to want to punch him in the face as hard as you can just to get him to stop. After the moment of pure stalker bullshit that starts Ghosted, his character Cole spends almost all of the runtime verbally attacking Sadie for lying to him ABOUT BEING IN THE CIA! He doesn’t get over this at all until literally the final minute when the traditional “Oh they’re actually good together” ending happens and it’s just… they made Chris Evans unlikeable, that shouldn’t be possible.

Also, they somehow made Ana De Armas boring to watch. Even though her last few movies haven’t been exactly favourites of mine (Blonde and Deep Water both ended up on my worst list for 2022), it’s always been undeniable that Ana De Armas is a captivating performer who demands your attention with her presence alone.  She has regularly risen above bad material to give a great performance… well, that’s not happening here. It’s not that the performance is bad, it’s that it’s bland. It stays on one note the entire time with no change, she’s the same person the entire way through and there’s no hint of energy or vulnerability to be found. She just wants to complete the mission, the mission, in this case, being shooting the stupid movie she’s found herself dumped in. 

Together these two have somehow got no chemistry, which is another thing that should be impossible because we’ve seen them have chemistry before. Knives Out showed that they work wonderfully together, their scenes in that movie are some of the highlights of the entire film (which is saying a lot considering how good Knives Out is) but here you just want to send them to separate rooms so they don’t kill each other. Sure, several characters say “Get a room” as though we’re meant to believe that what we’re seeing is sexual chemistry but if this is what sexual chemistry looks like then it’s time for all of us to join a nunnery and take a vow of chastity because it’s just not worth it if this is what that looks like. 

The worst part is that as a concept “Person who ghosted me is actually a CIA agent” is a fun idea that could work on some level, with the right pair of leads it could be exciting. There are even some scenes in this film where the tone almost works. One particular set piece (the joke I mentioned earlier) involves a set of cameos from Anthony Mackie, John Cho and Sebastian Stan who all play bounty hunters who kill each other in a cameo conga line of crazy that is actually kind of funny. Again, you could see how it could’ve been funnier had they maybe just gotten ALL the Marvel actors that have worked with Evans to do it and had the joke go on for longer, because it’s a joke that only kind of works because you know these are famous people playing these parts. Similarly, a lie detector scene has the potential for some good jokes, even delivering one or two of them before just fumbling by not actually doing anything great with the idea.

Half-assing seems to be the thing Ghosted does, because even if everything else worked, if the script was good and the actors cared and the comedic and action set pieces landed like they were supposed to, the film still looks bad. Some of the green screen stuff on this film is abysmal, to the point where you wonder if the two leads were even on set at the same time. The actual fight scenes are badly shot, killing any energy that’s in the actual fights and making it harder for the audience to follow. Even scenes that you know had to be shot on location feel off, they just look bad. Honestly, the only reason this wouldn’t be the worst-looking film on this cinematographer’s resume is that this guy shot Space Jam: A New Legacy… which was somehow still more interesting to watch than this film was (I will take heinously awful over boring and poorly executed any day of the week).

Ghosted really should have worked, it had every element that it needed to work. It’s an undeniably great cast, one of the most underrated directors working today and a set of screenwriters who have done action comedies before and made them enjoyable. They had Apple TV+ money to make this thing, it should have at the bare minimum been good but it’s not, it’s a bad film that fails at everything just enough to make the film boring to sit through. It’s not funny, not thrilling and not even charming just based on star power. It’s bad, it’s really actually quite bad.


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