Chris Evans and Ana de Armas swap expected roles for a blockbuster action film wrapped in a decent romantic comedy.
Plot: Salt-of-the-earth Cole falls head over heels for enigmatic Sadie — but then makes the shocking discovery that she’s a secret agent. Before they can decide on a second date, Cole and Sadie are swept away on an international adventure to save the world.
Review: Thanks to the blockbuster films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chris Evans has become synonymous with Captain America. Through roles in Knives Out and Defending Jacob, Evans has tried to stretch himself beyond the realm of comic books by selecting projects that are nowhere near comparisons to Steve Rogers. With Ghosted, Evans takes on a role that could not be any less like his iconic superhero role while still allowing him to have fun with stunts, spectacle, and a fair amount of comedy. Reuniting with his Knives Out co-star Ana De Armas, Ghosted is a fun yet predictable action movie with solid stuntwork and great cameos that plays with the conventions of romantic comedies while flipping the cliches of the spy genre on its head.
Ghosted clocks in at just about two hours, the first forty-five minutes of which are centered on the romantic comedy elements of the story. Cole Riggan (Chris Evans) lives in his parent’s guest house after returning home to help them work their farm outside of Washington, D.C. when his dad suffered an injury. Working at a farmer’s market selling their crops, Cole meets Sadie (Ana de Armas). The two flirt, disagree, and then spend a fantastic day together, echoing the magic of every meet-cute couple on the big screen. Cole struggles with being too needy and decides to track Sadie down after she doesn’t reply to his dozens of text messages. When Cole arrives in London, he is mistaken for the deadly secret agent known as Taxman and discovers Sadie is actually the CIA agent he has been mistaken for. As their adventure takes them across Europe and Asia and back to Washington, D.C., Cole and Sadie bicker and squabble as they try to stay a step ahead of Leveque (Adrien Brody), who wants the password for a deadly weapon known as Aztec.
What immediately clicks in Ghosted is the chemistry between Evans and de Armas. While Scarlett Johansson was initially set to pair with her MCU co-star, Evans and de Armas work wonderfully together. The gender-swapped approach of having Sadie be the superstar assassin spy while Cole is dumbfounded and clueless is a fun twist, but it also works because Evans never plays his character as helpless. Yes, Cole struggles with relationships, but he can hold his own in a fistfight. His skills are nowhere near a match for Sadie or the henchmen they face, but he never seems completely incapable. What also works is the great dialogue which is both hilarious and genuine thanks to the efforts of writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Eric Sommers, and Chris McKenna. The writers, all veterans of Marvel projects, spend much time getting us to care about Cole and Sadie as a couple as much as individuals.
It also helps that the bad guys are engaging to watch. Adrien Brody chews the scenery as the mustache-twirling Leveque. More of a middleman than a primary villain, Brody plays Leveque as a one-track baddie who will stop at nothing to get paid. He works with secondary characters like Borislov (Tim Blake Nelson) and his second-in-command Wagner (Mike Moh). Moh, a breakout in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, gets a strong role here and gets to break out his martial arts skills a couple of times. Leveque sends his mercenaries to hunt down Cole and Sadie, which allows for several stellar action sequences, including an intense chase sequence involving a bus, a mid-air plane fight, and the final fight atop a rotating restaurant along the Potomac River. The movie also includes four significant cameos that are one of the highlights of this film.
Dexter Fletcher, best known for directing Eddie the Eagle, Rocketman, and stepping in for Bryan Singer on Bohemian Rhapsody, shows a solid grasp of action filmmaking. Ghosted pushes the line of PG-13 movies with some of the deaths shown on screen. The movie is mostly bloodless but boasts a fairly high body count and the one allowed f-bomb the rating allows, and it is used perfectly. The budget on this Apple FIlms co-production with Skydance is easily one of the more impressive feature films of the streaming era and could have been a solid theatrical release. There is enough action here to please the blockbuster crowd, the humor works for all audiences, and the romantic stuff never feels forced or too sappy. If I have any complaints, it is that there is too much material stuffed into these two hours, which makes some elements feel unnecessary. From Cole’s family, played by Lizzie Broadway, Amy Sedaris, and Tate Donavan, to CIA agents, played by Mustafa Shakir, Anna Deveare Smith, and Tiya Sircar, everyone aside from the main characters and the villains is given short shrift.
Ghosted coasts on the effortless chemistry between Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, two really good-looking people, and solid actors. The pair’s enthusiasm and fun in making this movie come through in the finished project. Getting to see de Armas be badass and Evans be the arm candy is a fun twist on the conventions of romantic comedies without falling back into the cliche fare that both actors have dealt with before becoming superstars. Ghosted packs a lot into two hours, some of which work and some fall a little short, but it never fails to keep things moving at a breakneck pace. With solid villains, good action, and some classic cameos, Ghosted is a decent couple of hours at the movies.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/ghosted-review/