de facto film reviews 1.5 stars

Recently, Netflix’s latest action hit, Extraction 2, achieved streaming success and critical acclaim, but not every John Wick-esque beat-em-up hits the proverbial mark. See director Timothy Woodward Jr.’s ironically formless amalgamation of several popular films, Til Death Do Us Part, for the perfect example of one such miss. The story follows a nameless Bride (hello, Kill Bill), played by Natalie Burn, fleeing from her wedding for unknown reasons, only for her beau’s Groomsmen to pursue and attempt to retrieve her—by any means necessary. Naturally. Quickly, the viewer picks up that the Bride, Groomsmen, and the Groom himself are part of some shadowy organization of hired killers and that the Bride seeks an escape from “the life” (bonjour, John Wick et al.). When she rebukes the Groomsmen’s poor attempts to take her back to her fiancé, bloody, choreographed chaos ensues, but the decidedly average action scenes are not nearly enough to save this film from its other flaws.

While the concept of fighting off this version of The Deadly Vipers/League of Evil Exes (looking at you, Scott Pilgrim), aka the Groomsmen, is fun in theory, the characters themselves need to be interesting enough to carry the movie’s runtime, which is lofty here. Unfortunately, only a few, primarily Cam Gigandet’s Best Man, are notable. Pancho Moler and Neb Chupin’s contrasting duo follow closely but fail to make any meaningful impact. Somehow, Orlando Jones also fills a Groomsman role and is hilariously wasted. This issue permeates throughout the rest of the film, chock-full of mostly one-note, uninspiring characters, and underscores the most significant downside of Til Death Do Us Part: its script.

The film’s characters and often clunky, awkward, or exposition-heavy dialogue (another unfortunate detractor) exist within a jagged story structure. Two timelines coil throughout Til Death Do Us Part, initially tricky to decipher chronologically and entirely opposing in entertainment value. In the other, we see the Bride and Groom on their supposed honeymoon in Puerto Rico, making the acquaintance of an older couple, the latter offering the protagonists a ride out on their boat. Though this plot point slowly unravels and begins to make sense, and its rising action provides a break from the other timeline’s stunt-filled action, it takes far too long to reach the point. And sadly, that point is a narratively bland outcome that is not worth waiting for. Conversely, the film bounces between horror (barely), action, and romantic thriller tones in the main timeline, never establishing a consistent voice. The most frustrating reality is that the plot is remarkably simplistic within the scope of this neo-action thriller genre and does not stimulate much innovation or excitement.

As with most movies, there are some high points for Til Death Do Us Part. It is, first and foremost, a serviceable mish-mash of the films mentioned previously that contains some fun practically-designed kill sequences and stunt choreography. The hand-to-hand combat is pretty crisp, and the Bride’s use of weaponry and one-liners is amusing. Burn’s performance is respectable, while Gigandet steals the show, even though his character’s arc is ultimately anticlimactic. Jason Patric and Nicole Arlyn’s Husband and Wife in the Puerto Rico timeline are convincingly mysterious. Pablo Diez’s cinematography and the familiar soundtrack are mostly fine, even if they occasionally feel misplaced within the tonally discombobulating effort by Woodward Jr. and Co.

While Til Death Do Us Part fails to reach the heights of its rather apparent inspirations, it makes for a decently entertaining weeknight watch, should one feel the need to check out a new release.