Bad Times at the El Royale is a fun mystery/thriller with lots of twists, a great cast (Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth to name a few), and plenty of style. The story centers on a group of strangers who all converge on the titular hotel on the same night, all for different (mostly nefarious) reasons, and chaos ensues as they all become entangled with each other.
El Royale is very reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s early (in my opinion best) films, and have no doubt writer/director Drew Goddard was inspired by them. The film is more character driven rather than plot, and it works quite well here. There is still plot happening, secrets revealed, mysteries to explore, but the interesting characters are always at the forefront. The script is great, presenting very colorful characters and fun dialog, and the narrative is told in a non linear style, jumping back and forth in time to show us things from different perspectives. In less capable hands this can get very confusing, but Goddard manages it perfectly, and you don’t get lost.
The only knock I have on El Royale is that in the end it’s a bit too long. I felt like the film was having so much fun, it didn’t want to end, and really could have been 10 minutes shorter, and gone out with a harder bang. That said, it’s a really fun movie, and the kind you’re more likely to find on a streaming service nowadays rather than in a cinema. I’m really happy this got a theatrical run. Recommended, especially for old school Tarantino fans.