The Wedding Guest

The Wedding Guest ★★½

As a spare and sexy thriller, Michael Winterbottom’s “The Wedding Guest” is far too undercooked; there’s little flavor, and even less to chew on. As an audition for its star to be the next James Bond, however, this aimless Dev Patel vehicle is virtually perfect. Sure, there could stand to be a bit more shooting, but anyone with high cheekbones can look good holding a gun. Patel, who can play lost and worldly at the same time, brings a lot more to the table: Cold swagger. Taciturn mystery. A vulnerable side that he’s dying to show you. A scruffy beard that he wears like a disguise that’s designed to attract every kind of attention. If anything, Patel would have to soften up to play cinema’s most iconic spy.

Ten years after breaking through as a guileless teenager in “Slumdog Millionaire,” Patel is utterly convincing in a performance that evokes the dead-behind-the-eyes dangerousness that Joaquin Phoenix brought to “You Were Never Really Here.” It’s the glow-up of the century, and — for now — it’s wasted on a film that doesn’t know what to do with it.


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