Action Throwback The Best Man Harmlessly Forgettable
The Best Man is a 1990s-style, direct-to-video action throwback featuring genre stalwart Dolph Lundgren in a key role. Its premise also bears a strange similarity to Amazon Studios’ Shotgun Wedding starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel, released back in January — just obviously without the same production values or megastar performer in the lead role. Instead, this is a routine, relatively harmless thriller, barely 90 minutes, that is too blandly forgettable to make much of a lasting impression. It’s also quite boring.
At a remote New Mexico resort, a group of what appear to be well-armed terrorists have kidnapped a drunken millionaire, Chuck (Chris Mullinax), and taken an entire wedding party hostage. Still on the loose are his daughters Brook (Nicky Whelan), the bride; and Hailey (Scout Taylor-Compton), his company’s CFO.
Also stalking the hallways are three estranged best friends, Cal (Luke Wilson), Bradley (Brendan Fehr), and Anders (Lundgren), and they are determined to do whatever it takes to set things right. The three were once mercenaries who rescued Brook a year earlier from kidnappers, losing two other members of their team in the process. This was enough for the trio to call it quits.
But Cal and Brook hit it off — and it’s their wedding this mysterious group of gunmen has crashed. Bradley is the groom’s cousin and he’s here as the best man, while Anders, who has allowed himself to drift into the early stages of alcoholism, has only made the trip to reunite with his former compatriots.
Halloween II veteran Taylor-Compton (who deserved to become a far bigger star and it’s a shame that’s never happened) comes off the best here, her performance having an authentic complexity that’s surprisingly endearing. Whelan also makes a lot out of precious little, and it’s nice that director Shane Dax Taylor allows the two primary female characters to have their own agency and not just be formulaic damsels in distress.
I can’t say Fehr did a lot for me. He’s rather stiff as the lead heroic figure, and while he handles the action scenes well enough, I got the strange sensation he’d rather have been doing anything else than sharing a dramatic scene or delivering a few lines of expository dialogue. Thankfully old pro Lundrgen is around, and while he’s clearly going through the motions, the actor still brings a level of stoically knowing gravitas that the majority of the production irritatingly lacks. He even gets a few moments of craftily bumbling seduction when a slightly inebriated Anders puts the moves on the resort’s piano player. Lundgren knows what he’s doing, and Taylor rightly makes the most of every scene he’s in.
Wilson gives it a worthy effort in his first go as an action hero, but Bruce Willis (or even Martin Kove or Jeff Speakman) he is not. Still, his laconic delivery and easygoing presence is certainly unusual for a B-grade Die Hard clone, and if he were to try this sort of thing again, maybe he could figure out how to make a similar performance similar work.
Look, I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about The Best Man. It isn’t very good. The pacing is sluggish, most of the action scenes are poorly shot and edited (with some notable exceptions), and although the film was primarily shot at the Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Inn of the Mountain Gods in New Mexico, frustratingly, Taylor doesn’t do much with this undeniably picturesque setting.
But as I’ve already said, the finished film is more or less harmless. There’s little reason for me to come down too hard on it, so I’m just going to say it wasn’t for me and then call it a day.
Film Rating: 1½ (out of 4)