Monday, April 17, 2023

The Best Man, Starring Dolph Lundgren

What the Stanley Hotel is to horror, the Inn of the Mountain Gods now is to VOD action movies. The resort has spectacular views, an indoor pool, and a casino (since it is on Apache-governed land). It would be a great place for Brook and Cal’s wedding, if it were not for the armed, hostage-taking party-crashers in Shane Dax Taylor’s The Best Man, which releases this Friday on demand and in theaters.

Cal and Brook did not exactly meet-cute. He was part of the team of special operators hired to rescue her from terrorist kidnappers. They got her safely back home, but at the cost of several comrades. Cal had not seen Bradley or Anders since the team broke up, but they both come to show their support during the wedding. Bradley even agrees to be the best man. As a result, he finds himself paired up with Brook’s somewhat forward sister and maid-of-honor, Hailey, which he does not mind at all. That gives Bradley an extra added motivation to fight Axel’s gang of mercenaries, when they start rounding up the bride’s family.

So, yes, this is basically
Die Hard in a resort, during a wedding, but why shouldn’t it be? Especially since Dolph Lundgren plays Anders. It is a good setting, with at least a handful of interesting characters. Weirdly, that does not include any of the villains, who are all quite cardboard and forgettable.

However, Lundgren does a nice job as Anders, projecting a heaviness reflective of his character’s grizzled maturity and checkered history. Likewise, as Hailey, Scout Taylor-Compton injects more energy and attitude than viewers usually find in formulaic
Die Hard rip-offs. Luke Wilson largely squanders his “action debut” as Cal, which is a shame, since it is impossible to resist comparing The Best Man to his brother Owen’s comedy hit, Wedding Crashers. However, Chris Mullinax makes quite a memorably drunken mess as Chuck, the father of the bride.

There are several presentable action sequences largely relying on the veteran Lundgren and Brendan Fehr, who is serviceable but not exactly inspired as Bradley. For his part, Taylor keeps the action easy to follow and discern on screen, without letting the film ever bog down unnecessarily.

The Best Man might have transcended its VODness if more on-screen talent had embraced its conventions and possibilities. Oh well, it is still highly watchable as a low-stress couch-streaming kind of way. Mostly recommended for Lundgren fans, The Best Man opens this Friday (4/21) in New York, at the Cinema Village.