When all the Film Twitter rejects can talk about is how star-studded the littering of cameos is, there are major troubles from top to bottom. Ghosted is an intense example of the trouble that these soulless features face. The only fear factor of this traipse through The Exorcist sets and beyond is what it means for the audience. Marvel and the like have ruptured something in the popular movie-going, where a reference, cameo or flashing marker of familiarity must expose itself. Where people watch to see their favourite person rather than a story. Granted, Ghosted’s plot is about as opaque as the spooky apparitions it alludes to appearing, but that is no excuse. It is not the point, either. Dexter Fletcher knows that. His press kit offerings and interview slices show that much.
Was failure to be expected of the cheesy action-clad industry plant feature? Yes. Absolutely. Fletcher has his desire to direct something massive cut and shut by AppleTV. This is the future of streaming. Regardless of the impact Ana de Armas and Chris Evans have on this piece, the former speaking to spectres of Marilyn Monroe to ask for permission or forgiveness over Blonde, the latter a shadow of his promising former self, the pair are on autopilot. Who can blame them? There is little heart in the safe comedy of a streaming feature helmed by the squeaky-clean hands of big brands. Where else can the flatlining zingers and Ryan Reynolds cameos go? Nowhere. Evans, the slicked hair and squeaky white teeth of the respectable family feature, does little to involve himself.
Neither does de Armas. Who can blame them? An immediate and not-so-chance encounter between Cole Turner (Evans) and Sadie Rhodes (de Armas) is about as believable as Sebastian Stan’s cameo and portrayal of God. Indifference toward plants and squabbles that follow Feel It Still and other commercially viable jitters make for not the brightest or best pairing. Not even a serviceable one. Fletcher goes from Rocketman to disaster management. Barely defined action setpieces follow through, with CIA agencies, empty cave exploration and a feeling of Hallmark brevity to the on-screen dynamic, or lack thereof, between Evans and de Armas. Fascinatingly dull action setpieces see Evans dressed up as a knockoff Nathan Drake while de Armas does her best to sell lazy action sequences that provide all the intensity of trying to open a salad cream bottle.
Adrien Brody is also there. He enjoys himself as some dressed-up villain that receives more screentime than expected at this stage in his career. His quantity-over-quality mentality shines through on Ghosted, a feature that feels tailor-made for Bland Person and Generic Partner to kick their limbs up to as they enjoy the latest feature that, through sheer laziness and lack of desire to peek behind the culture curtain, is just a click away. Ghosted will be seen by more people than it would because it is plastered on the walls of AppleTV’s streaming service. It would die a staggered and frankly deserved death had it been released the normal way. Such is the switch from cinema to streaming. Fletcher warned of this in his interviews, hinting at the new normal. If this is what mainstream filmmaking will be, then the medium is broadly deceased, as ghostly as the apparitions hunted down in this blinkered redundancy of a project.