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‘Ghosted’ reunites Chris Evans and Ana de Armas in a spirited action comedy

<i>Frank Masi/Apple TV+</i><br/>Ana de Armas and Chris Evans in
Frank Masi
Frank Masi/Apple TV+
Ana de Armas and Chris Evans in "Ghosted

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

Chris Evans and Ana de Armas” is about all that’s required to make the sales pitch for “Ghosted,” a spirited if familiar action-based romantic comedy, where the sparring banter generally outshines the muscular stunts. Throw in clever cameos and this Apple TV+ movie delivers on its promise of unpretentious fun.

“Ghosted” offers a reminder that Evans possessed considerable appeal (including his work as a romantic interest in “The Nanny Diaries”) before he picked up Captain America’s shield, and de Armas has super-spy credentials from the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” and “The Gray Man,” one of her previous collaborations (along with the more successful “Knives Out”) with Evans.

Director Dexter Fletcher (“Rocketman”) relies on the natural chemistry between the two to carry the simple premise, which begins with the unassuming Cole (Evans), who works on his family farm, meeting de Armas’ alluring Sadie, arguing with her about whether she has what it takes to raise a houseplant. From there, the pair go on one very long, very good first date.

Coming off a breakup, Cole is understandably smitten, and wounded when she doesn’t immediately respond to his texts. So with encouragement from his parents (Amy Sedaris and Tate Donovan), and ignoring his sister’s warning that he “came on way too strong,” he impulsively tracks a left-behind item of his to her location in London, where the surprise turns out to be on him, as Sadie is quickly revealed to be a clandestine operative for the CIA.

Moreover, shades of “North by Northwest,” the bad guys, led by Adrien Brody’s sneering villain, mistake Cole for the mysterious agent who has been mucking up their plans, dragging him into Sadie’s cloak-and-dagger quest for a dangerous bioweapon that Hitchcock used to refer to as a MacGuffin.

Mostly, the spy shenanigans serve as a backdrop to the squabbling and making up that goes with Cole’s shock about Sadie’s secret life, the danger to which he has inadvertently exposed them both and the fact that everyone keeps telling the pair that they should “get a room” when they’re arguing.

With a screenplay from the “Deadpool” team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” scribes Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, “Ghosted” exhibits a sense of playfulness throughout, with Evans appearing to relish the opportunity to portray an everyman thrust into all these heroic hijinks. (While they go to great lengths to stress that Cole wrestled in high school, in these bouts, as Sadie informs him, he can’t expect his out-for-blood opponents to tap out.)

Frankly, the star power alone might have made “Ghosted” a reasonably solid box-office attraction, but with the movie heading directly to streaming — where just garnering attention is more than half the battle — it’s pretty much a slam dunk for the posters alone.

Unlike the needy Cole, “Ghosted” doesn’t ask for anything more than a couple intermittently attentive hours of your time. Thanks to Evans and de Armas, it’s the sort of invitation that’s pretty hard to ignore.

“Ghosted” premieres April 21 on Apple TV+. (Disclosure: Lowry’s wife works for a unit of Apple.)

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