The Best Man (2023) Review
The Best Man opens with a rescue mission as a group of mercenaries rescues an American woman kidnapped in Mexico. Despite being much better equipped than the kidnappers they take casualties including Axel (Scott Martin, The Rig, Big Kill) who take a bullet to the skull and is left for dead.
A year later that woman, Brook (Nicky Whelan, Maneater, Trauma Center), is marrying Cal (Luke Wilson, Gasoline Alley, The Girl Who Invented Kissing), one of the men who saved her. His cousin Bradley (Brendan Fehr, Final Destination, Wander) is the best man and another of the crew, Anders (Dolph Lundgren, Hard Night Falling, Operation Seawolf) is also going to be there.
Brook’s father (Chris Mullinax, Assassin, Mindcage) has rented a huge, remote resort for the ceremony, but they may have wished they chose a more urban location when a team of heavily armed wedding crashers show up.
Director Shane Dax Taylor (Bloodworth, Isolation) and his co-writers C. Alec Rossel (Jack’s Habit, Served Cold) and Daniel Zirilli (Invincible, Crossing Point) start The Best Man off as expected for this kind of film. There’s a quick burst of action to open things up, followed by a lot of dialogue as we get a quick introduction to the characters.
While a bit predictable, right down to Bradley hooking up with Brook’s sister Hailey (Scout Taylor-Compton, An Intrusion, Halloween) and the security guard who says he could use more days this quiet right before the shit hits the fan, this is better handled and livelier than in other films. It’s also timed nicely so it isn’t dragging by the time the shooting starts.
And when it does start, there’s never really any doubt about who is behind the attack or what their motive is. The filmmakers don’t even try to hide it. When the attackers show up, he’s the only one not wearing a mask. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the action genre that with only a few changes the hero and villain roles could have been reversed. Unlike the director’s previous film Masquerade though, there’s no attempt to try and blur those lines. Doing that might have added some depth to the plot, but considering my opinion of Masquerade, it’s probably for the better that they didn’t.
Instead, The Best Man settles for being a more straightforward shoot ’em up as the various characters stalk each other around the resort with frequent bursts of violence when they cross paths. The actions are set out nicely, letting all of the film’s leads have their share of brawls and shootouts, which makes it feel more like an ensemble film. Even Lundgren has a good-sized role rather than just a name on the poster cameo.
Stunt coordinator Jake Dashnaw (Spree, Spy Kids) does a good job of setting up the fights. He leans towards keeping them short and brutal rather than the extended, room-trashing brawls more commonly seen in the genre. It’s a nice change and, given the age of some of the cast, makes things a bit more believable.
And it all works quite well, keeping the action moving along at a good pace for most of the film’s length, Unfortunately, The Best Man makes a big mistake in its final minutes. After building up what looks like it’s going to be an excellent final battle, it chooses to resolve things in about the most anti-climactic manner possible short of it all having been someone’s nightmare.
While that does hurt the film and ends it on a disappointing note, it doesn’t ruin what comes before it. The Best Man still manages to be one of the better lower-budget action films to come around recently. It’s nothing Earthshaking, but it is a good way to kill ninety minutes. And in a genre as full of misfires as this, sometimes that’s all you need.