Review: Chris Evans and Ana de Armas (and Countless Cameos) Can’t Save Ghosted, a Joyless Action-Heavy Rom-Com

Forgive me for getting stuck on this, but this movie took four people to write; I won’t name them here because I don’t want to embarrass them. And those are just the people who are given credit.

It never fails to shock and amuse me when so many chefs contribute to something with the originality and flavor of a cheese sandwich, and not even the toasted kind. From director Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman, Eddie the Eagle), Ghosted is the story of hopeless romantic Cole Turner (Chris Evans), who works on his family’s farm and falls in love far too easily. Shortly after getting dumped (in what we suspect is the latest of many), Cole meets art dealer Sadie Rhodes (Ana de Armas, Evans’ co-star in Knives Out and The Gray Man) at a farmers market as she’s attempting to buy a plant. They get into a bit of an argument over the plant’s care, but the two end up spending the entire day and night together. Clearly, Cole is head over heels, and begins texting her a bit too much, while she doesn’t respond at all.

After talking over the situation with his friends and family (mom and dad are played by Tate Donovan and Amy Sedaris, with Lizze Broadway playing smart-ass sister Mattie), Cole decides to use a tracking chip on something of his that made its way into Sadie’s purse (don’t ask; he didn’t plant it on her) to find out where she is, in order to surprise her. Turns out, she’s in London, and when Cole arrives looking for her, he’s kidnapped and taken to a secret location where he is about to be tortured for information in a case of mistaken identity. Just before vicious bugs are released on his face, Cole is saved by none other than Sadie, who it turns out is a CIA agent, more than a little pissed that Cole followed her and is giving off stalker-ish vibes.

What follows is a globe-trotting adventure involving top secret weapons technology, which the bad guys have but can’t use without a long, complicated passcode that they think Cole has (he’s been mistaken for someone called the Tax Man). Adrian Brody is on hand as the villainous broker in charge of getting the code from the Tax Man and acquiring a sizable fee in the process. Also on hand is the great action star and stuntman Mike Moh (probably best known to American audiences for playing Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Tim Blake Nelson, both working for the bad guys. The great Anna Deavere Smith shows up as well, as Sadie’s CIA boss who is very disappointed in her for putting her personal feelings ahead of the mission to re-acquire the weapon.

As you can probably tell, the plot of Ghosted is unnecessarily complicated to no real ends. It’s not clever or smart or difficult to figure out. The banter between Evans and De Armas isn’t cute or funny or sexy; they either hate each other or are madly in love, depending on what the script (by four people, just to remind) requires. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a Chris Evans character more. He’s winey, childish, and can’t keep from blurting out what he feels, even if it risks other people’s lives, simply because he has no emotional filter. De Armas is at least trying to maintain a certain level of professionalism, and her fight sequences are particularly fun most of the time.

I should also mention (since everybody else will) that there are an array of cameos in this film. I was certainly not expecting them; they are people whose ties to Evans are well established, and they are pointless beyond words. So I’m sure people will love them. The lesson here is: if you have famous friends, take full advantage of them.

Ghosted is a film that is more an endurance test than a joyride, and with two winning leads like these two, that’s a shame. I’m almost more bothered by the fact that the modern romantic comedy seems to require an extra element, like action, because the filmmakers don’t have confidence in their central relationship. If that’s the case, maybe one of those four writers should have worked harder on character development. Since that clearly didn’t happen, this is what we’re left with. Enjoy the cameos!

The film is now streaming on Apple TV+.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.