THE STORY – 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.
THE CAST – Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Mike Moh & Tim Blake Nelson
THE TEAM – Dexter Fletcher (Director), Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 103 Minutes
Like an unclean pool, Hollywood has a chemistry problem. Too many movies simply put two unfathomably attractive people at its center and hope their beauty will compensate for any lack of sizzle, which simply doesn’t work. “Ghosted” is the latest allegedly romantic film to make its way to streamers, and the sparkless dynamic between its stars, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, is only one of its problems. It’s an underwhelming and visually unappealing action-romantic-comedy that won’t fully satisfy fans of those three genres.
Cole (Evans) is unlucky when it comes to love, so when he meets, and butts heads with Sadie (de Armas), it surprises both when they quickly start falling for each other. Across the course of one long day, the pair has several romantic, fun mini-adventures. But when Sadie doesn’t respond to Cole’s texts, he boldly decides to follow her to London and surprise her. But it quickly becomes clear why she ghosted him, as Cole stumbles into a world of international spies in which Sadie is involved.
It’s a shame to see Evans and de Armas’ star power diminished by the mediocre film they’re stuck in. They occasionally attempt to imbue it with some level of charm missing from the screenplay. Evans, in particular, sells the inexperience of his character with any level of violence in the early action scenes, which is especially funny as a contrast to the perfect human weapon he plays in the Marvel movies. And de Armas is up to the challenge of the fight sequences, calling to mind her scene-stealing appearance in “No Time to Die.” But they’re both less than engaging whenever they’re forced to recite any of the uninspired dialogue with which they’ve been burdened.
The screenplay appears to be having to have an identity crisis in real-time as the movie progresses. It begins as an opposites-attract romantic comedy before abruptly switching into action. But the film never successfully melds these varying tones. Instead, the fight sequences feel perfunctory, as if the writers were mandated to include one after a certain number of pages. The jokes are generally sparse but practically nonexistent in the third act, when the film turns into an espionage drama. The apocalyptic scenario playing out as the film wraps up isn’t set up interestingly enough to make the audience invested in the suddenly-very-dire stakes. Instead, the proceedings merely feel like wheels spinning as the lumbering vehicle that is the film makes its way to the end credits.
There are rare, refreshing moments. Admittedly, the couple’s first date is comprised of fun activities, such as racing up the famous stairs from “The Exorcist.” And the first big action set piece, which involves a bus and car chase, is mostly well executed, with inventive choreography and funny gags woven into the chaos of the scene. But this sequence, and indeed, all the action scenes, are undercut by nonsensical song selections. What does “My Sharona” have to do with Ana de Armas driving backward on a mountain pass in Pakistan?
As with many recent releases, the film is shot in an aesthetically unpleasant way. Gray is the film’s dominant color, and the harsh lighting makes even the unquestionably gorgeous central couple look washed out. Making matters even visually worse, the CGI used to bring the globe-traversing film to life is distractingly bad. Even in simple scenes that take place in cars, it appears as if the characters are living inside an old computer in desperate need of an update.
“Ghosted” sports an appropriate title, as it epitomizes the vanishing nature of romantic chemistry in modern movies. The script tries to trick viewers into believing that Evans and de Armas are an ideal match by having other characters constantly tell them to “get a room,” but like almost everything that makes up the movie, it’s unsuccessful in its attempt.