No spy skills needed to see where brain-numbing ‘Ghosted’ is going

Despite the big stunts and the charisma of Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, Apple TV+ action comedy offers little we haven’t seen before.

SHARE No spy skills needed to see where brain-numbing ‘Ghosted’ is going
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Chris Evans plays a farmer who pays a surprise visit to see his new love (Ana de Armas) and discovers she’s a spy in “Ghosted.”

Apple TV+

Considering Apple TV+ started producing and distributing original content just seven years ago, the streamer has built an amazing catalog, with wonderful limited and/or ongoing series such as “Black Bird” “Ted Lasso,” “Shrinking,” “Five Days at Memorial,” “Shining Girls” and “Pachinko,” and outstanding feature films including “Causeway,” “Palmer,” “Sharper,” “Spirited” and the Oscar-winning “CODA.” You could spend a month watching nothing but Apple originals and never have a bad day.

Alas, you can spend nearly two hours watching the slick, cynical, vapid and brain-numbing actioner “Ghosted” on Apple TV+ and find yourself regretting the decision pretty much every predictable and overblown step of the way. Despite the star power and charisma of Chris Evans and Ana de Armas as the leads, this spy spoof adventure comedy is just as loud and dumb as a number of recent high-profile Netflix actioners, e.g., “Red Notice” with Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson, and “The Gray Man” with Ryan Gosling, Regé-Jean Page — and Evans and de Armas. (They also were in “Knives Out” together.)

It’s not enough to cast big stars and fork over tens of millions of dollars for stunts and CGI and exotic location shots. It really helps if you have, what do they call it, a script. Even when a movie isn’t intended to be anything more than Big Dumb Fun, it should go about its business in a smart and involving way, instead of leaving us feeling as if we’ve seen pretty much all of this before.

‘Ghosted’

Untitled

Apple Original Films presents a film directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of strong violence/action, brief strong language and some sexual content). Running time: 116 minutes. Available Friday on Apple TV+.

Remember “Knight and Day,” the 2010 action comedy with Tom Cruise as the lethal super-duper anti-hero spy and Cameron Diaz as the civilian who gets caught up in his world and is a perpetual damsel in distress? “Ghosted” is essentially the same movie, except this time Ana de Armas is the lethal super-duper anti-hero spy and Chris Evans is the damsel in distress. Wacky gender reversal!

Evans plays a Washington, D.C., area farmer with the NASCAR driver name of Cole Turner, who, despite being impossibly handsome and very sweet and having a true passion for plants and veggies and stuff, is unlucky in love, much to the dismay of his parents, known only as Mom and Dad (Amy Sedaris and Tate Donovan), and the delight of his sister Mattie (Lizzie Broadway), who appears to be about 20 years younger than Cole. Both siblings still live at home, on the farm, though Cole has graduated to the guest house.

At a farmers market, Cole has a meet cute with Sadie (Ana de Armas), who tells him she’s an international art curator. They spend a magical 24 hours together as the World’s Most Attractive New Couple, and Cole tells his parents he thinks Sadie might be the love of his life — but then Cole gets “ghosted,” with Sadie ignoring his texts and emojis and calls. This is when Cole makes the rash and slightly stalker-y decision to fly to London to surprise Sadie, she’ll love that, right?

Well …

Cole isn’t in London for more than a few minutes when he’s mistaken for a deadly and legendary operative known as “The Taxman,” just like regular guy Kevin Hart was mistaken for the world’s deadliest assassin in last year’s “The Man From Toronto.” (Never mind how it happens. It’s a ridiculous setup.) He’s kidnapped and taken to an underground lair in the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, and just as Tim Blake Nelson’s weirdly accented psychopath is about to torture Cole for the passcodes to Aztec, the obligatory top-secret weapon of mass destruction, a leather-clad, gun-toting Sadie bursts in to save the day. “Who are these people?” Cole asks of the now-dead henchmen. “Bad guys,” replies Sadie. OK then.

Director Dexter Fletcher (“Eddie the Eagle,” “Rocketman”) indulges in the now-familiar action movie practice of setting shoot-outs and chase sequences to pop music, with “My Sharona” by the Knack, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars needle-dropping in. Adrien Brody hams it up as a suave and evil arms dealer named Leveque, and there’s a quite hilarious sequence when a number of Evans’ acting buddies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe make brief cameos before they’re, um, sent on their way.

Cole quickly becomes a capable sidekick, as all civilians must in movies such as this, teaming up with Sadie to take out a series of foes while they bicker about how he was too clingy from the get-go, and she’s like a cactus because she can survive with almost no care, something like that. The action pauses just long enough for a kiss or two, and then it’s back to all the pyrotechnics — a lot of sound and fury, amounting to a big shiny pile of inconsequence.

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