Dev Patel in The Wedding Guest

Dev Patel impresses in “The Wedding Guest” as a mercenary.

Movie fans who’ve followed 28-year old actor Dev Patel since his breakout performance in 2008’s Oscar-winning best picture, “Slumdog Millionaire,” will marvel at how far the young British movie star has grown as an artist. The sensational performer and top billing two years ago in “Lion” now appears as a hired gun in the action thriller “The Wedding Guest.”

Patel, in what could seriously be construed as an audition tape for the next James Bond casting, portrays a contracted kidnapper whose mission is to remove a bride-to-be (Radhika Apte) before she marries into a wealthy Pakistani family. The dynamic relationship between Patel and the Indian actress Apte kindles a frantic thriller of cat and mouse between the two and law authorities.

The underlying success of “The Wedding Guest” is in how the film marvelously hits the ground running. Immediately, viewers are thrust into the murky and dangerous international travels of Patel. Long before we identify his kidnap target and true motives, Patel’s clandestine “Jay” character has landed in Pakistan and surrounded himself with locals growing suspect of his arrival and inability to speak the Urdu language.

A fast-paced start procuring weapons, rental cars and a handful of aliases on passports cements an intriguing, but deadly, challenge for Patel’s mission-oriented chameleon. Aside from the movie’s border crossings and attempts to stay incognito within busy streets and hotels, “The Wedding Guest” never strays too far from the main storyline of Patel and Apte’s evolving relationship.

“The Wedding Guest” maximizes every scene shot to the fullest. Perhaps the film’s most interesting take is on how Apte reacts to her new freedom outside of arranged marriage. Her choices all have serious ramifications and consequences that will follow her for life. Likewise, Patel’s Jay character (like Bond) crosses the professional line at times with longtime repercussions.

Dev Patel’s international prowess towards violence makes this film one not to miss. His cat-like reflexes and intuition for danger keep him happy and safe for the most part. For moviegoers, though, a kidnapping storm gathers wind quickly for an enjoyable and thrilling trek through India and Pakistan. 

Catch “The Wedding Guest” at select theaters nationwide. In Tucson, the film debuts at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway, next Friday, March 29. 

Grade: A-

“The Wedding Guest” is not yet Rated with a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes. 

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at reelbrief.com. Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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