By: Juan Calvillo
“Bad Times at the El Royale” starts off slowly, then ratchets the intensity into overdrive, telling a violent story of perception and truth.
Each of the characters staying at the El Royale, a hotel with a ‘60s feel, have something that has made them wary of others in Drew Goddard’s wild ride of a movie.
Goddard has cut his teeth writing and producing amazing action and story heavy projects like Netflix’s “Daredevil” and “The Martian.” His step behind the camera with “Bad Times at the El Royale” is awe inspiring, and shows a very stylistic approach to filmmaking. Music choices from the ‘60s era seem right at home in the film. The music almost becomes a secondary character, being used not only as part of the soundtrack, but also as a bridge into the world of the El Royale.
The movie’s story is full of twists and turns. The trailer sets up the crux of the movie by showing various characters staying at the famous El Royale.
The building is split in two with half sitting in Nevada and half sitting in California. As the story progresses, the more sinister reality of the hotel begins to surface.
The revelation of what actually goes on in the hotel is what kicks the story into high gear.
From there, it feels like there is a constant push forward, almost like a line of dominoes falling one after the other, leading to violent interactions and revelatory character moments. It is in these quiet moments where the story really deepens and connects the audience with the characters.
The star-studded cast is lead by Jeff Bridges as Father Daniel Flynn, an oddity in a place like the El Royale. Cynthia Erivo plays a lounge singer named Darlene, Jon Hamm plays Laramie Seymour Sullivan, and Dakota Johnson plays Emily. Chris Hemsworth stars as Billy Lee.
Each of the characters has an interesting arc. Bridges, Flynn and Erivos Darlene are the most interesting.
Through flashbacks, the audience is shown what each character has endured up to the point of arriving at the “El Royale.”
At times, the perception of each character is changed by the hotel itself and the truth of each character is revealed.
Knowing more about their motivations and who the characters really are make the events of the finale all the more impactful.
The violence and intensity of most of the film almost becomes a cleansing fire that burns all the shadows back.
Like the characters, the movie ends up showing itself as being more than just another Shoot-’em up and delivers a very interesting look at how truth really can be freeing.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” is rated R for strong violence, language, some drug content.