Judging by mid-tier Hollywood thrillers, if you meet an attractive person and hit it off, there is a 73 per cent chance they’ll turn out to be a super-spy in a desperate life-or-death battle to stop some kind of big bomb. As a result, there’s little that’s fresh about the premise of Dexter Fletcher’s latest film — so it rises or falls on the chemistry of its leads. Sadly, what they offer here is only a ghost of their potential.
One problem with this boy-meets-girl, girl-turns-out-to-be-a-spy, boy-gets-pulled-into-an-international-conspiracy plot is that Chris Evans seems fundamentally miscast. Full credit for attempting to go against type as a homebody farmer inspired to make a grand romantic gesture after he meets Ana de Armas’ Sadie — that much feels reasonable, even with her straw-like wig — but with the best will in the world, it’s hard to buy him as a gee-shucks regular guy who’s just unlucky in love, even given the regular Hollywood suspension of disbelief about what an average person looks like. There’s too much sense of hidden swagger underneath for him to be so out of his depth, and not enough meat to the character as presented to make up for his lack of competence.
Fundamentally, there's no reason to root for these two to get together.
That said, the former Knives Out co-stars are clearly comfortable together and have some fun dialogue amid the bickering as they find themselves on the run from an arms broker (Adrien Brody with a ludicrous accent). Their romantic scenes suggest that this might have worked better as a straight romcom, perhaps a walk-and-talk like Evans’ Before We Go. Maybe then their respective characters could have been fleshed out and become slightly three-dimensional. Alas, we’re not that lucky, and soon people are being spirited across international borders without even a nod to passport control, while others are shot with gleeful abandon.
De Armas makes for a convincing action hero, spinning Evans around and shooting over him as he gapes at proceedings, but their romantic and professional fates aren’t as efficiently intertwined as in the best of the genre: she says she’ll get in trouble for having him along, but the film doesn’t make any real stakes out of that or, indeed, the mission itself. Worse, Fletcher can’t quite stick to a tone, occasionally straying from relatively sincere action-comedy into full farce, as with one scene involving battling bounty-hunters and a very odd running joke about Sadie’s exes.
So our heroes chase and shoot-out across the globe, with Fletcher and DP Salvatore Totino handsomely staging a variety of ludicrous, high-end hangouts, but none of it feels like it matters much. It’s just another super-spy with just another deadly MacGuffin. The leads are too charismatic for this to ever feel unwatchable, but fundamentally there’s no reason to root for these two to get together. They’re both unspeakably gorgeous; they’ll find someone else. What do we care?