The claustrophobic setting of a prison drama means that any script has to be especially tight and compelling or it’ll fall foul of the most familiar tropes. Ghosted sadly brings nothing new to the table and although its actors try gamely, its script is too overburdened with cliché and dreadful contrivance to have any emotional impact
The story sees John Lynch as Jack, a long-serving prison inmate who gets news that his wife is leaving him on the anniversary of their son’s death. When the arrival of the young arsonist Paul (Martin Compson) attracts the attention of the resident wing kingpin Clay (Craig Parkinson), Jack sees a way to exercise his dormant paternal instincts.
Naturally, Clay doesn’t take too kindly to Jack inferring in his business and a palpable tension develops – a shanking seemingly lurks around every corner. The situation is further complicated by the corrupt prison warden (David Schofield) who presides over the unfolding drama.
Ghosted is a great example of a movie in which all the great performances in the world can’t save a deficient script. John Lynch gives a commanding performance as Jack; quiet and reserved but with a throbbing sadness and furious rage that threatens to leak out at any moment. Martin Compson also does well as Paul, his mumbling conveying a vulnerable naiveté. Better still is Craig Parkinson’s Clay, an effectively sly psychopath who nevertheless lives under constant fear from those in authority.
It’s a shame then, that these performances are wasted in a film littered with the most clanking prison movie clichés – everything from prison yard factions and corrupt screws to sensitive misunderstood artistic prisoner and shower rape (although admittedly this particularly brutal scene is handled extremely well). Art Malick also shows up as Jack’s platitudinous Asian cellmate and spouts such laboured philosophical drivel that it’s hard to see him as anything as a version of the Magical Negro trope.
Ghosted has a promising beginning which builds an impressive amount of tension, but it’slet down by a sluggish and uninvolving middle act which deflates any sense of pace and a final act so ridiculously contrived that it’ll evoke tears of mirth rather than ones of significant emotion.
It’s certainly a good showcase for the talent involved but all of them deserve a much better movie than this.