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A secret agent's date with a normal guy goes wrong in this stale Apple TV+ film
Hollywood is failing Ana de Armas.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe most people on Earth would agree that she is among the more stunning residents of this pale blue dot. Beyond her marvelous screen presence, she's also got sincere acting chops and a charming persona (did you see her on Saturday Night Live?), plus the allure she holds for celebrity gawkers thanks, in part, to being 50% of the best pandemic A-lister love affair. She is, without question, one of the best true movie stars we've got. The problem is that other than Knives Out, she's yet to star in a good movie. (Her Oscar nomination for Blonde almost feels to me like a "we're sorry you had to go through that" apology to her on behalf of the movie industry.)
Ghosted looked like it had potential. De Armas's little section of No Time to Die is the best part of that weirdly downbeat film. "Oh, leave this grumpy Englishman and focus on her!" many of us thought as she kicked butt and smiled in the 2021 James Bond picture. Ghosted, an Apple TV+ Original directed by the usually sturdy Dexter Fletcher, casts her as another secret agent, but this time she's dragging along an everyday fella caught up in the mayhem: Chris Evans. While one or two of the action sequences cut together well, I regret to inform you that the movie as a whole comes together like a bottle of flat Diet Pepsi.
It starts out OK. De Armas's Sadie, dumping exposition to her shrink while driving, feels lonely and unfulfilled in her work, but she's going to stop and get groceries now. Cut to a farmers marker where Cole (Evans), a farmer, is selling his goods, but his fellow vendors are ragging on him because he got dumped again. Apparently no woman wants to commit to this handsome farmer. (There are shots of him in a beekeeping outfit, for heaven's sake.) I don't know what's more far fetched: some of the gravity-defying vehicular stunts in this movie or the concept that women keep leaving Chris Evans.
Anyhow, our two leads meet and quibble about cacti, then end up on a first date. The dialogue is mediocre (four credited writers!), and yet … I dunno. Something about walking the streets with Ana de Armas on a first date jibber-jabbering about nothing spoke to me. This is a galaxy away from a film like Before Sunrise where you fall in love with the characters falling in love, but … am I such a mark for finding this all just a little bit charming?
The first problem with this movie, though, is that Evans is playing a part meant for Seth Rogen or someone like that. A normal guy. He lives with his parents (a very funny Tate Donovan and Amy Sedaris), also farmers, plus his needling sister (Lizze Broadway), who all seem very aware of his love life. He's a nervous nellie who's never been out of the country, and he instantly starts over-texting Sadie.
Alas, she's ghosted him, but he left his asthma medicine (!), which has a tracking device on it (?), in her purse. He decides to go surprise her where she is, in London. (She's told him she's an art broker.)
Next thing you know he's captured by baddies, she's actually a killing machine, and soon they are zooming over cliffs on the Khyber Pass in Pakistan while villainous Adrien Brody twirls his mustache in a cave surrounded by weaponized bugs. I won't get into too much more of the plot, as it is absolutely ridiculous.
The first big action sequence is actually pretty fun. It's even got a Wilhelm scream. It's trying so hard to be the truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark, though. Some of the shots deliberately match. Then the movie gets super cutesy with wacky cameos from, presumably, Chris Evans's famous friends. It's funny at first, but they keep popping up, even at the very end.
One must chuckle a bit at the final action scene, at a revolving restaurant atop a skyscraper that goes haywire and turns into one of those gravitron rides. But what's most annoying is that Ghosted doesn't know what to do with Evans. Is he just some mild dude who raises bees, or is he actually an unstoppable warrior who can make pudding out of bounty hunters and bodyguards like de Armas can? It makes no sense.
Ana de Armas and Chris Evans were both in last year's very forgettable action-adventure picture The Gray Man, which debuted on Netflix. I didn't much care for that one,but I gotta say, it's better than Ghosted. There's really just not much going on here. Even the song choices are bland. When you are relying on the overplayed, generic "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" by Jet to get the blood pumping, you really are grasping at straws. If someone texts you suggesting to come over and watch this one, you may want to consider just ghosting them.
Premieres: Friday, April 21 on Apple TV+
Who's in it: Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Adrien Brody, Tate Donovan, Amy Sedaris
Who's behind it: Dexter Fletcher (director); Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers (screenwriters)
For fans of: Spy drama, bad dates