Moving Pictures
May 01, 2023, 06:27AM

Ghost Protocol

Ghosted is as disposable and lightweight as last year's The Gray Man.

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High-budget action pictures made by streaming services are a genre with a brief and inglorious history. Netflix, in particular, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sorry action pictures like Extraction, Red Notice, and The Gray Man, buying them a few weeks on the Netflix internal Top 10 list, but never making much of an impression otherwise. Ghosted, not on Netflix but Apple TV+, feels like those others, even featuring two of the stars of The Gray Man, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. It's not as bad as its Netflix brethren, but still no great shakes.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the British filmmaker who did an uncredited salvage job on Bohemian Rhapsody and later directed the Elton John biopic Rocket Man, Ghosted isn't bad in the same way as those Netflix movies. The action scenes are coherent and even entertaining. Ghosted is based on a silly concept that represents a half-assed, gender-flipped rehash of True Lies. Chris Evans plays Cole, a farmer who brings his wares to a farmer's market in Washington, where he meets a cute mystery woman named Sadie (Ana de Armas). They meet, have a one-night stand, he's clearly smitten, and then she disappears, failing to respond to a couple of days of texts.

Cole follows his lost love to London where we discover she's a CIA agent, on a top-secret spy mission. Cole gets mistaken for a part of it, causing them and a crime boss (a horribly-accented Adrien Brody) to start gunning for each other. There are a few things that go wrong here. The writing is bad, full of dialogue that's not funny (the film credits four different writers). There are also distracting cameos from the four or five actors you were probably expecting.

Worst of all is just how miscast both leads are. Ana de Armas, while good as an action star, isn't believable as a single lady who's lonely and unlucky in love. And even worse, this premise hinges on Chris Evans being out of place in an action-adventure setting. That's what should drive the comedy here. But it doesn't, because Evans isn’t out of place in that setting. We've seen him play Captain America, in eight different movies, so it’s hard to believe him as an unworldly farm boy. It strains credulity that a guy who looks like Evans doesn’t have any idea how modern-day dating etiquette works.

Evans and de Armas are very appealing performers, and they had some decent scenes together in Rian Johnson's Knives Out. They were both in The Gray Man too, and luckily, this time de Armas isn't lit mostly in shadow. There's a decent supporting cast as well. Lizze Broadway steals a couple of scenes as Evans' wisecracking sister, as does The Good Place veteran Tiya Sircar as a CIA functionary. Tate Donovan and Amy Sedaris, hilariously, play Evans' parents. But Ghosted, like The Gray Man and Red Notice, is disposable.


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