Ghosted is the first straight-out action movie to premiere on Apple TV+. The film, which stars Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, has been savaged by critics, but it really does not deserve all the insults.
True, it’s far from perfect. However, Ghosted delivers some good fight scenes and a laugh or two. And that’s probably all you want from a made-for-streaming action flick.
I enjoy a good action movie
Simple adventure movies often get a bad rap. Film critics are looking for emotional depth, and that’s not what we get from characters who solve their problems with guns and fistfights.
I’m not a film critic. I don’t want to wallow in someone else’s emotions. I like to watch a fun movie at the end of a long workweek. And Ghosted is just that.
In the PG-13 film, which arrived last week on Apple TV+, Chris Evans (Captain America himself) plays Cole, a quiet farmer. Part of Ghosted’s humor stems from the fact that we watched this actor go toe-to-toe with Thanos, and now he’s playing a nebbish.
Ana de Armas plays Sadie, a CIA agent. But when Cole meets her, she’s pretending to be a simple art curator.
Ghosted goes for the old “opposites attract” trope. Cole is so clingy he drives women away, while Sadie is too fixated on her work to have a real relationship. But the two characters have an epic first date.
Then Sadie ghosts Cole — hence the title of the movie. When he discovers a clue about her location, he makes what he hopes will be a grand romantic gesture and travels to London to surprise her … where he’s captured by a murderous weapons-smuggling ring whose members mistake him for a famous CIA agent.
Sadie comes to his rescue. She’s an incredible badass able to take out hordes of goons single-handedly. Meanwhile, Cole is stumbling around trying to not get killed.
The movie turns into a struggle to capture a highly dangerous MacGuffin that must be kept away from the arms dealers.
Let’s get to the action
The plot of Ghosted is simple and very familiar. But you shouldn’t watch action movies for original plots — they get in the way of the fight scenes.
And Ghosted has plenty of those. There’s a great one that takes place in a bus on a winding mountain road that’s one of the best bus fights since Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
There’s also a nicely claustrophobic fight on a small plane, and the obligatory huge battle at the end with dozens of participants and the boss villain dying only after an epic struggle.
True, the movie starts off slowly. It spends time establishing Cole’s and Sadie’s characters, but that’s typical of action movies. And once it gets moving, everything stays in high gear.
Reasonably good acting
There’s no doubt Chris Evans can pull off a simple adventure film. Aside from his time carrying a shield in all those Marvel movies, Evans proved he can really act in Apple TV+ drama Defending Jacob.
He and Ana de Armas have decent chemistry, and make a believable couple. True, it takes some suspension of disbelief to accept that this slim, shapely woman is a CIA agent who can beat the crap out of giant thugs, but waif-fu has been a feature of action movies for many years.
Scarlett Johansson, who played Black Widow alongside Evans in several Marvel movies, was originally going to play the female lead in Ghosted, and I have mixed feelings about her absence. As much as I love her (and I do), put her and Evans together on-screen in a fight scene, and I might keep expecting Cole to whip out a shield and take out everyone.
Villains are as important as heroes in any melodrama, and Adrien Brody is suitably menacing as the big bad boss in Ghosted. He’s no Alan Rickman, but then who is? Mike Moh does a fine job as his assistant.
As sometimes happens in a movie, a minor character is one of the most memorable. A minion tasked with torturing Cole for information is so funny in the role that he stands out as a high point.
So many Ghosted cameos
Many of the people who appeared in Avengers movies make cameos in Ghosted. I’m not going to ruin the surprises with details. But just when you think you’ve seen them all, one more appears. These are all played for laughs, and their appearances are some of the best humor in the film.
I’ve seen complaints about cameos like this, and I assume seeing Chris Evans’ friends showing up in his movies doesn’t amuse film critics. However, I really like it.
Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes) showing up as a sarcastic taxicab driver doesn’t exactly count as a cameo, but he’s brilliant in the brief appearance.
What’s the problem?
As noted, critics really don’t like this movie. The official Cult of Mac review calls it “slackly paced, howlingly unfunny, acted in complete boredom and frustration, and deeply uninterested in the handful of genres it touches upon.”
But keep in mind, this comes from someone who makes reference to “the insufferable Deadpool movies” in that review. Adventure/comedy clearly isn’t his cup of tea. And I think that’s true for many critics. If it’s not in line for an Oscar, it’s a bad movie.
I, on the other hand, enjoy some action-packed action. A good movie can exist without any serious artistic merit. Ghosted was a fun way for me to spend a Friday night. That’s all I wanted. But that’s not to say it’s flawless.
Chris Evans clearly wants to move his career past simple action/comedies, and his whole heart is not in this role. Watch Defending Jacob to see him giving 110%.
Beyond that, the movie really does start off slowly, as mentioned. The time spent establishing Cole’s character drags a bit. He spends too much time interacting with an extended family that could have been replaced by a single short scene of him talking to a friend about how he needs to break out of his rut.
Even before that, Ghosted probably should have begun with an action scene starring Ana de Armas to start our adrenaline pumping. Instead, it wastes time pretending she’s really an art curator, when everyone in the audience knows she’s not.
And while there’s some humor, I wouldn’t describe this as an action-comedy. Being funny isn’t Evans’ strength. The laughs come from other characters/actors.
Ghosted is exciting but forgettable
Ultimately, this is a popcorn movie. It’s a fun watch, but you won’t think about it afterward. So what? Not every movie needs to be Schindler’s List. Sometimes, we need to lean back and enjoy something simple. And that’s Ghosted.
The critics are definitely being too harsh on it. As just one example, I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando in a theater. That’s another popcorn action movie, and one that’s worse than this one from Apple TV+ in almost every way. But the 1985 flick gets a far higher score on Rotten Tomatoes. So take the critics’ comments for what they are worth.
All that said, I probably would have been harsher on the imperfections of Chris Evans’ latest if I’d paid more to see it. But a ticket doesn’t cost $20. You and all your friends can watch it with a $6.99-per-month subscription to Apple TV+. And that’s a plan you should think about for this weekend.