It could have been a slick romantic comedy, or perhaps an action-packed crime film with lots of playful flirting, but instead this drama, steeped in somber realism, is lifeless and forgettable. The Wedding Guest comes from veteran director Michael Winterbottom, who tends to specialize in serious, realistic movies (with the occasional dry comedy or literary adaptation thrown in), and whose ambition sometimes transcends and eclipses his material. In this case, he's taken a pretty simple, almost old-fashioned crime story, and pulled back from it, telling it as if it were happening in the real world, in modern times. It just feels mismatched.
Winterbottom follows the kidnapper character as he takes care of the various details of his assignment:-buying duct tape, renting two cars to throw the law off the trail, etc. A genre film would have shown how these errands snapped into place and added up to something. The Wedding Guest simply stumbles over them, as if they never mattered. Even worse, the main relationship should have had some kind of spark, but it feels mechanical and plot-driven, especially given Patel's constantly grim-faced performance. In other words, the movie could have been fun, but it isn't; could have been romantic or exciting, but it isn't. Sometimes realism isn't all it's cracked up to be.