If you find yourself craving a full meal of Ana de Armas as a hard-hitting CIA operative after the aperitif served in No time to die, Apple TV+ has you covered. The Oscar nominee Blond Survivor stars as another unflappable American intelligence agent, as dexterous with her fists as her guns Ghostedwho revives her Knives out chemistry with Chris Evans, in funny fish-out-of-water mode as a farmer unwittingly swept along on a hair-raising, world-traveling mission. Dexter Fletcher’s action-adventure rom-com doesn’t break the mold, but it’s fun and flashy enough to draw viewers in large numbers.
Apple and Skydance certainly threw some resources at the glossy production, from the magnetic leads and extended action sequences to the big-name cameos popping up in humorous guises. The script is the combined effort of seasoned Spider-Man team Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers with deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
It comes down to
If the movie ends up falling into a generic gene pool with other mediocre streamer originals like Netflix’s Red notice or The gray man (the latter also a vehicle for Evans and de Armas) which is unlikely to disturb the target audience.
It’s part of the machinery of voracious streaming platforms – they need constant nourishment, but no matter how big and boisterous and slick the attempts to replicate the studio’s blockbuster hit, they almost always end up as throwaway entertainment. The absence of a theatrical splash generally makes for only the most ephemeral pop culture imprint. They are a commodity, in this case probably much less durable than most Apple products. That also applies to the Apple CarPlay that is prominent in the opening scene.
That being said, Ghosted serves its purpose. It’s fun enough if not the daring thrill ride that Fletcher’s breathless pace and steady barrage of car chases, gunfire, explosions and mano-a-mano fragments in distant locations would lead you to believe.
Sadie from De Armas and Cole from Evans cutely meet at a DC farmers market when she tries to buy a potted begonia and he refuses to sell it to her after she confesses that she travels too often for work to water it as required . He suggests she would be better off with a low-maintenance cactus, which is the start of a running joke about Cole’s neediness and Sadie’s prickly isolation.
Despite their initial friction, they go on an impromptu date. They enjoy picturesque Georgetown and race the exorcist steps before entering the National Gallery of Art. But neither Sadie’s athletic fitness nor her basic taste in painting (“I love Monet!”) lead him to suspect that she may not be telling the truth about her job as an art curator. At the end of a whole day and night of walking and talking, smeared with random vocal tracks, they fall into bed and Cole is instantly smitten.
The next day, back at his parents’ ranch, Cole’s mom (Amy Sedaris) and dad (Tate Donovan) both seem thrilled that he’s met a woman he thinks is “the one.” His teasing sister (Lizze Broadway) predicts he’ll soon scare her off with his habitual clinginess, and when his stream of texts and emojis to Sadie is ignored, she seems right. But Cole realizes he left his asthma inhaler in Sadie’s backpack and a tracking app linked to the medical device allows him to trace her to London.
The fact that his condition is barely mentioned, despite undergoing a series of physical ordeals that would kill most asthmatics, is just one of those scenarios best ignored. Likewise, Cole helps with the foreshadowing by musing, “I think the trips you plan the least are the ones that pay you the most.” This from a man who is revealed to have never left the country.
Cole used to be averse to unplanned trips, but when his mother suggests that he should just come to London and surprise Sadie (“It’s going to be romantic!”), he goes for it. That proves unwise when he follows her to Tower Bridge, only to be kidnapped by a gang of thugs, convinced he’s a CIA golden boy codenamed The Taxman. (You just know Apple jumped on the Beatles song, which we’ll hear at a crucial moment.)
Just as eager torturer Borislov (Tim Blake Nelson, with a tough Russian accent) is about to deploy flesh-eating bugs to wrest a passcode from Cole, who is as panicked as he is stunned, Sadie storms in with guns in to save him and take him away. a small army of villains. She’s the real taxpayer, duh, and she’s in awe of his romantic surprise and annoyed by the responsibility of having to protect him while mowing down bad guys.
That immediately brings them back to hostile banter, specifically during one of the film’s key action sequences, aboard a colorfully decorated bus, which comes under attack as it hurtles around Pakistan’s mountainous Khyber Pass.
Fletcher executes the high-speed chase more than proficiently, but it’s the sparks generated by the Armas and Evans that keep him afloat. Sadie acts like a seasoned super-spy, never frightened even in one-on-many situations. Cole stumbles his way to the occasional winning move, at one point using a gag-gift cactus as a weapon. The script could hardly be more schematic in their character breakdowns – he uses his parents’ farm as an excuse to avoid life; she uses her job to avoid getting close to anyone – but the charismatic leads sell it.
Sadie’s attempts to send Cole home fail, in part because Leveque (Adrien Brody), a disgraced former French intelligence agent turned arms dealer, remains convinced he is the taxpayer. Leveque and his accomplice Wagner (Mike Moh) have obtained Aztec, a biochemical weapon capable of wiping out the east coast of America. But it’s useless without that missing passcode and their buyer gets impatient.
The action shifts from Pakistan to an island in the Arabian Sea and back to DC, where Sadie finds herself in trouble for going rogue. But CIA copper (Anna Deavere Smith) decides they should keep Cole around as bait, especially when his knowledge of crops proves useful in deciphering a mystery. The spin-cycle climax high above the Washington skyline reminds us why dining in revolving restaurants is rarely a good idea.
Aside from the famous faces popping up as bounty hunters and a former lover who still carries a torch for Sadie, nothing very surprising happens. But Ghosted engages on its own undemanding terms, never getting hung up on the number of deaths and dampening the violence in a light, playful tone. That also means that there is never any real danger. Pushed by a team of three busy editors and a series of spicy needle drops (The Knack’s “My Sharona” in Pakistan? Sure, why not?), the movie is spicy popcorn entertainment with luxurious leads. It goes down painlessly, even if you’ll probably forget about it once it’s over.
As she entered No time to die, de Armas can inject sexy carefreeness and attractive persona into action-hero badassery, while Evans is clearly having a good time and downplaying his hunky Captain America credentials to become the babe to be rescued. Of course, Cole gradually finds his mojo even in the tightest spots, while Sadie rethinks her strict “Mission Over Man” policy and comes to appreciate his romantic spirit. Who wouldn’t want these two to be together?