The actor is intriguing as a kidnapper but the movie can't find enough for him to do


Dev Patel is uncharacteristically icy and mournful as a hired kidnapper in "The Wedding Guest," but there's little in this flat thriller to warrant accepting its invitation. 

Patel plays Jay, who arrives in Pakistan from London and kidnaps a young woman, Samira (Radhika Apte), who is set to be married off in an arranged marriage.  

Samira isn't surprised at Jay's arrival — she correctly assumes he's been hired by Deepesh (Jim Sarbh), her lover — and willingly goes along with him to escape a life she didn't want.  

But as "The Wedding Guest" plods along, little is revealed about the two characters or their backgrounds, and the bumps they encounter on their journey make for only the mildest of intrigue.

Jay kills a security guard, complicating what was meant to be a clean job. He arranges for a rendezvous with Deepesh but keeps missing him. Meanwhile, Jay and Samira form a connection. Samira's disappearance is all over the news, a plot point that doesn't seem to bother either of them very much.  

Writer-director Michael Winterbottom ("The Trip" series, with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) takes viewers to some exotic locales across Pakistan and India and turns the film into a sort of meditative travelogue, but the background doesn't compensate for the lack of resolution in the foreground.

Patel, however, is a revelation as a brooding soul at war with himself. Who knew the actor, known for playing good guy roles, had darkness in him? "The Wedding Guest" shows he'd make a great action baddie, or a wicked Bond villain. Too bad he doesn't have more to sink his teeth into here. 

'The Wedding Guest'


Rated R: for language, some violence and brief nudity

Running time: 94 minutes


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