Action comedy Ghosted isn’t exactly the film that I would have expected from Dexter Fletcher. His short filmography is peppered with different types of genre fare, from the gritty drama of Wild Bill (2011), to the musical highlights of Sunshine on Leith (2013) and more recently Rocketman (2019). However, he has up until this point shied away from more blockbuster material i.e. action movies, even if his name has been connected to a number of actioners currently still in pre production.
Ghosted is probably Fletcher’s most high profile film to date, and interestingly his most anonymous. While Fletcher does a competent job behind the camera, with Ghosted featuring several well paced action scenes, it lacks the charm and personality of Fletcher’s best work such as Eddie the Eagle (2015).
Chris Evans stars as recently single farmer Cole. Although not looking for love, that’s exactly what he finds in the shape of the lonely Sadie (Ana De Armas). The two quickly hit things off and enjoy an all night date, with Cole being overjoyed the following day. His happiness is short-lived though, as all the texts he sends to Sadie go unanswered. His sister suggests that she has “ghosted him”, but Cole refuses to believe this could be the truth.
Cole finds out Sadie is in London through a tracker on his inhaler which he accidentally left in her bag. Encouraged by his parents (Tate Donovan & Amy Sedaris) to go for it, Cole decides to travel to London to surprise Sadie. And this is where his problems begin. No sooner has Cole gotten a taxi into the heart of London that he is being kidnapped.
Waking up to threats of torture, Cole it turns out has been mistaken for legendary C.I.A. agent The Taxman. His would-be torturers are looking for a passcode, that unbeknownst to him is for a deadly bio weapon only known as “Aztec”. Clearly out of his depth, Cole is just about to be tortured with deadly insects until he is rescued by Sadie who it turns out is actually The Taxman.
Now Sadie must track down both the passcode as well as Aztec and stop it from falling into the hands of unscrupulous arms dealer Leveque (Adrien Brody). She is forced to bring Cole along for the ride who at first appears to be a hindrance but proves to be more resilient than she expected.
As mentioned, director Dexter Fletcher does well handling the comedy, romance and action aspects of the film. Still, as commendable a job he does, there is nothing here that would make you understand why he took on the job. It lacks the quirks and eccentricities of his previous films, and while the script from Deadpool (2016) writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick certainly has enough humor injected throughout, there is nothing in Ghosted that you won’t have seen in much similar fare.
In addition to this, the film has a particular look about its production that betrays its production values. I call this the Netflix effect. Like Netflix, who have been known to splash quite a bit of cash on productions, this Apple TV+ production looks somewhat cheap due to the film being shot digitally. Sometimes the digital photography is so clean or sharp it shows up the fact the principals are acting on a sound stage. This is painfully obvious during the otherwise exciting cave shootout where Sadie rescues Cole from his kidnappers. The use of some obvious green screen also doesn’t help matters, although for the most part it isn’t too obtrusive.
In many respects, Ghosted plays like a poor man’s True Lies (1994) or to a lesser extent Knight and Day (2010), with Evans and De Armas going from exotic location to the next, creating all kinds of merry havoc on the way. Even though it is unable to match the scale of those films mentioned, Ghosted still manages to be a lot of fun during its brisk 116 minute run time. It does help that Fletcher has two quality actors in the lead, even if one of them in particular is somewhat miscast.
The miscast one in question would be Chris Evans, whose movie star good looks and previous history as an action star gets in the way of him playing a lovelorn everyman. This isn’t to say that Evans doesn’t give the role his all, with him being his usual charming self, just that the audience has to seriously stretch disbelief during the film’s action scenes. It’s hard seeing Captain America needing rescuing. Even so, Evans still throws himself into the action, with his character Cole not being as useless at the heroics as initially anticipated.
Still, when it comes to heroics, co-star Ana De Armas is the more impressive of the two, with her properly getting to show off her prowess as an action star after the quick taster we were given in No Time to Die (2021). As expected, De Armas is charming as ever in the role, with her being equally believable during the romantic segments of the film as she is when proving she can be a cold blood killer.
De Armas wasn’t even the first choice for the role, with her being a replacement for the originally cast Scarlett Johansson. I’m sure Johansson would have been able to pull off convincingly, but I must say that I’m glad the role went to De Armas who seems more suited to this type of lighthearted action/adventure.
Like many romantic comedies, our two leads bicker throughout, but it’s not much of a spoiler to say they still end up overcoming their differences. Ghosted is no game changer, and pretty much follows the code book of which plot beats to cover. The plot goes exactly where you expect it to, and for the most part this isn’t an issue as the beautiful leads, stunning locations and some exciting set pieces are enough to keep you interested.
The only real drawback is that I expected there to be more chemistry between Evans and De Armas. The two work hard at trying to sell their relationship, but something just seemed missing during certain scenes. I was surprised at this, with this being their third film together after Knives Out (2019) and The Gray Man (2022), although I suppose each of those films didn’t have them share the screen to a great extent so it wasn’t an issue.
Adrien Brody is good value as scenery chewing villain Leveque. This wouldn’t go down as one of the Oscar winner’s greatest roles, but he is clearly having fun. Personally, I’m just happy to see him appearing in high profile roles once again rather than the DTV features he was featuring in a few years back. It would have been nice to see him be more of a physical threat to the heroes, but his character leaves that to his henchman.
Leveque’s main henchman, or right hand man is played by Mike Moh, who some may remember from his portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) or last year’s Blade of the 47 Ronin (2022). Like the latter film, his role in Ghosted is much more substantial than his cameo as Bruce Lee, with him getting to show off his martial arts capabilities on several occasions, most memorably during the finale where he goes one on one against Evans.
Alongside the leads, there are several smaller roles that keep things entertaining. I especially enjoyed Marwan Kenzari as an ex associate/lover of Sadie who clearly isn’t over her (like quite a few characters we come to meet). I would have liked for him to stick around a bit longer as I felt he had great comedic potential but sadly his screen time is fleeting. As well as Kenzari, there are some other recognizable faces that show up which I won’t spoil here, although I suspect they will have already leaked online.
I have noticed that Ghosted has been relieving unfavorable reviews online since its release. Now I’m not here to say that they are all wrong, but some seem to be expecting too much from what was clearly intended to be a fun, lightweight action romp, which it pretty much carries off. Sure it has some issues, and most will struggle to remember much of it a week on, but it’s exactly the film it’s advertised as.
I did hope that it would be slightly above a fun time filler considering the involvement of Fletcher, but at the end of the day I still had fun with the film. Here’s hoping that it’s successful enough for Fletcher to work on something more suited to his talents.
Plot: 3/5 Acting: 3.5/5 Action: 3.5/5 Overall: 3.3/5