Capsule Review: Ghosted (2023)

Ghosted is reminiscent of a generic product straight out of the assembly line. Sure, it boasts an attractive onscreen pairing of Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, who both appeared in Knives Out (2019) and last year’s The Gray Man. The movie also features familiar behind-the-scenes talents, including director Dexter Fletcher of Rocketman fame and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool) and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy). It even has a potentially exciting premise that combines rom-com tropes with action comedy and spy thriller.

With all of them combined, it should have been fun and entertaining. But after spending excruciatingly two hours streaming Ghosted on Apple TV+, I can’t believe that despite all the onscreen and offscreen talents involved could only muster a strictly by-the-numbers and painfully uninspired genre mishmash. The first 30 minutes started off as a typical meet-cute rom-com, where Sadie (Ana de Armas) is looking to buy a potted plant from one of the stands at the farmers’ market. Cole (Chris Evans) tries to recommend her the right houseplant, only to end up in a series of petty arguments that are meant to be funny. You know, the kind of bickering and love-hate moment that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what would happen next. They end up with a coffee date and later, all the get-to-know-you routines (we learn that Cole is a farmer and Sadie an art curator).

But after spending the whole day enjoying his first date with Sadie, Cole doesn’t hear from her ever since. He tries to text her a few times but there is no reply, figuring she must have ghosted him. His parents (Tate Donovan and Amy Sedaris) persuade him to be more proactive by flying all the way to London for a surprise visit. Once in London, Ghosted shifted gears from rom-com to action-comedy/spy-thriller hybrid as Cole finds himself embroiled in a series of misunderstandings and dangerous situations. This includes being mistaken as an enigmatic, wanted figure known as the Taxman and encountering international criminals (Tim Blake Nelson, Adrien Brody). He also learns about Sadie turns out to be a CIA agent and she’s the reason that got him into trouble in the first place.

Ghosted has a few worthwhile moments, notably the elaborate chase sequence through the rocky mountainside of The Khyber Pass in Pakistan and a scene where Sadie and Cole encounter opposing bounty hunters played by celebrity cameos. But they just aren’t enough to overcome the movie’s tepid Mr and Mrs Smith and gender-flipped True Lies-like screenplay, complete with mostly unfunny dialogues and repetitive words of “sexual tension” and “get a room”. The onscreen pairing of Chris Evans and Ana de Armas strangely lacks chemistry, which is a huge waste of chance, considering they are both charismatic stars who certainly deserved better than this while Adrien Brody and Tim Blake Nelson are wasted as the movie’s antagonists. Save for the aforementioned Khyber Pass chase sequence, most of the action here is a mixed bag with spotty CGI. It’s not like the Khyber Pass setpiece is devoid of obvious digital fakery but at least it has a decent sense of exhilarating fun and kinetic energy.

As for Dexter Fletcher, he isn’t the kind of director that I’m expecting in such a glossy Hollywood blockbuster like Ghosted. He’s more like a work-for-hire rather than a visionary filmmaker with a knack for directing something different for a change. It was overall a colossal disappointment and easily one of the worst movies of the year I’ve ever seen so far.

Ghosted is currently streaming on Apple TV+.