Back in the ‘90s, crime movies shot first, asked questions later, and loaded up with drugs, booze, bullets, and one-liners; and they were all the craze. You couldn’t turn around without hearing about a film that was destined to be the next GoodFellas or Pulp Fiction, for better, and most certainly for worse.
Nowadays, it’s almost sad to see that kick-ass thrillers making you cheer for the bad guys, or see who lives long enough to stick around for the ending, are incredibly rare. But, if you’re looking for a movie loaded with twists, turns, femme fatales, two-faced felons, crazy crooks, and trigger-happy madmen, welcome to Bad Times at the El Royale.
Writer/director Drew Goddard continues to be a man of many talents after writing for series like Buffy, Angel, Alias and Lost, before becoming the showrunner for Daredevil on Netflix. His feature credits include projects like Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods and World War Z, but Bad Times at the El Royale is clearly a passion project that’s entirely his baby.
The original teaser trailer can be viewed below.
After a few mysterious guests look for a place to lay their heads without anyone asking too many questions, the audience checks in at the El Royale Hotel on the border of California and Nevada. The joint was a host to musicians and movie stars, including the Rat Pack, in its heyday, but has fallen on hard times after losing its gambling license.
The real question is what happens when you put a double-dealing FBI agent, a bank robber, a touring musician, a whacked out Vietnam vet, two shotgun-wielding sisters on the run, and a crazy cult leader in the same room with a fat bag of cash? Well, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out!
The entire flick is jam-packed with slick dialogue, dark humour, stylish plot-twists and a side-winding story about a bag of moolah and who can live long enough to make out with the big score. It sounds simple enough, but that’s why movies like this are botched so easily. In this case, you can thank the smart story structure for giving every character a chance to shine.
The story unravels through a series of flashbacks sorted into chapters with some serious Quentin Tarantino flavouring combined with elements of classic Elmore Leonard stories. Every character has their own story complete with a shady past and dreams of how they’re out for one big score to change their future.
Unlock the voyeuristic hedonism within you and watch the film’s stylish trailer.
Each chapter adds a thick layer of subtext and dramatic irony so the audience is always one step ahead of the characters, but the plot line is set up in a way where all bets are off and anything can happen. Since there’s no clear-cut hero, you’re rooting for different characters at different times, but the story reveals there’s always more than meets the eye with everyone on board.
It is so refreshing to see a shoot’em up thriller that’s not based on any source material, and allows its deep bench – of crazy characters and a killer cast – plenty of time in the spotlight to show off their range. The soundtrack is filled with classics that will have you shaking your hips and singing along every step of the way. If you’re looking for a great Friday night popcorn thriller that’s splendidly entertaining, put this at the top of your docket, pour yourself a cocktail and prepare for pure FUN.
Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Release Date: October 12, 2018 (United States)
Run Time: 141 minutes