Friday, June 16, 2023

'Til Death Do Us Part' (2023) Movie Review

natalie burn in a wedding dress
You’ve seen this opening countless times in an endless parade of Lifetime movies. It’s the day of the big wedding. Everyone is at the church. The handsome groom hangs out with his boys. The hunky best man struggles to put the finishing touches on his toast. The bride, radiant and ever so in love, looks into the mirror and gets cold feet. Even the title font and opening score scream this specific brand of light, fluffy, inoffensive made-for-cable romantic fare. 


Here’s where Til Death Do Us Part flips the formula, however. The Bride (Natalie Burn), the Groom (Ser’Darius Blain), the Best Man (Cam Gigandet), and the rest (including one named T-Bone, played by former pro skateboarder Pancho Moler, and another called Big Sexy) are not just a friend group, but a cadre of highly skilled mercenaries. And the Bride isn’t just bailing on her fiancĂ©, she’s running out on her team, her employers, and really her way of life. Instead of your typical runaway bride scenario, which usually concludes with the couple reconciling, things take a decidedly more violent path as the bride must battle her scorned lover and his seven deadly groomsmen in order not only to free herself but simply to survive.


[Related Reading: 'Section 8' Movie Review]

natalie burn with a chainsaw

Til Death Do Us Part falls into a certain lower-budget DTV style action niche. (If you found your way here and are reading this, the assumption is that this is probably very much your bag.) Director Timothy Woodward Jr. and writers Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor are all well versed in this arena, know what is expected, and generally deliver on these inherent promises.


The action is slick, well-staged, and kicks a whole lot of ass, which is, above all other things, what a movie like this must do. Burn is an appropriately badass protagonist, tearing her way through tuxedo wearing goons all while wearing a wedding dress. If we were to get a regular stream of films of this ilk with her at the center, we could do much, much worse. 


[Related Reading: 'The Best Man' Movie Review]

cam gigandet hamming it up

The supporting players do solid work, though the highlight is definitely Gigandet, who has an absolute hoot dancing about and feasting on the scenery. Jason Patric shows up in a parallel narrative as a mysterious figure with his own unique insight into the whole scenario. There are even nods to a wider, more expansive world beyond this specific slice of life, hints to a kind of John Wick-ian underworld sprawl. It’s easy to imagine the writers having ideas of stories that extend beyond this one. (Between this and The Best Man earlier this year, which he directed, it’s starting to look like Taylor has something against weddings. Or at least a wedding wronged the guy somewhere along the line.)


Basically, what’s fun about Til Death Do Us Part is super fun. Seriously, there’s a damn chainsaw, always a plus. Fans of this type of action film will find a great deal to enjoy and celebrate. Produced by Jeffrey Reddick, who wrote Final Destination, this is a well put together project, and in an aesthetic, mechanical sense, it stands apart from many counterparts of similar size and scope. The biggest drawback, however, the thing that keeps it from taking a place at the top of the DTV action heap, is the length.


[Related Reading: 'High Heat' Movie Review]

natalie burn covered in blood

There’s a 90- or 95-minute movie in here that utterly rips. The finished product, however, runs an hour-and-50-minutes. In so, so many instances scenes are allowed to play out well beyond making their point and accomplishing what they need to. Among others, there are three dance scenes that could be a fraction of the length, and bits of back-and-forth banter that spool on and on until they become repetitive and lose any impact. It’s understandable for filmmakers to fall in love with characters, scenes, moments, and more, cling to them, and want to keep them. That’s the impression left here. But too often they’re included to the detriment of the film at large. Every time the film reaches a point where it’s about to start cruising along, another of these incidents shows up and sandbags any accrued momentum. The result is a wildly uneven pace and tempo full of starts and stops.


Til Death Do Us Part has a ton to recommend it, especially for fans of this type of action movie. It has a compelling star, strong surrounding cast, some solid ideas that cleverly tinker with conventions, fantastic and occasionally quite bloody action, and is generally a well put together movie. Unfortunately, it’s hard to miss how good it could have been though, with some streamlining the potential is there to be something that stands out more distinctly amidst the pack. [Grade: B]

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