Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Synopsis: Four strangers check into the El Royale Hotel, located on the border of Nevada and California, at the same time. They all have different reasons for being there and some of them aren't who they claim to be.

Who's in it? The movie stars Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth.


Review: I received the DVD of this movie from Netflix several weeks ago and, mostly because of the longer run time, never seemed to find time to watch it with my wife. We finally decided to watch it today and, while it wound up being better than I expected it to be, my overall opinion of it remains a bit mixed.

The various characters, ranging from a woman (Johnson) who rescued her sister (Cailee Spaeny) from a cut leader (Hemsworth) to an aging ex-con with dementia trying to recover stolen money while posing as a priest, were interesting. I liked how the movie gradually gave each of them a back story that described how they wound up at the hotel while, at the same time, leaving out little details so there were some surprises.

The hotel itself also had its secrets, including a secret hall that allowed an unknown entity to film people in the rooms. Since it was unclear who was behind the filming or their motive for doing so, it was hard to tell if that would play a bigger role later in the movie.

My biggest problem with this movie is, while it never reached a point where I would call it boring, it did seem to drag at times. Some parts of the film seemed to be stretched out a lot more than they needed to be, especially since some parts of the movie were already repeated from various characters' perspectives. As I told my wife, the film probably could have cut at least thirty minutes from the runtime and it wouldn't have made a difference on the overall plot.

I also have to say, for a movie that seemed to put a lot of time into the plot, there were some parts that were actually extremely predictable. I guessed the fake priest's motives right away and my wife and I both identified the undercover FBI agent long before he gave away his secret. While there was still enough going on in the movie to make it watchable, the predictability was definitely disappointing.

Final Opinion: I didn't hate the movie but, at the same time, there wasn't anything about it that really stood out for me. It was an OK film but not one I would describe as particularly memorable. 

My Grade: C+

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