“Bad Times at the El Royale” opens with a bank robber popping into a room at a motel called the El Royale. Pacing and nervous to the point of frantic, he moves the furniture around, pulls up the rug, pries the boards from the floor and drops the money down in the hole, and then puts it all back together.
Then he’s shot and killed.
Flash forward a decade, and Jeff Bridges’ Father Daniel Flynn checks into the El Royale along with a salesman done by Jon Hamm, a singer played by the incredibly gifted Cynthia Eviro, and Dakota Johnson playing a woman who kidnaps her little sister and rescues her from a cult led by Chris Hemsworth’s Billy Lee.
Their experience at the El Royale is as frantic as that of the murdered bank robber.
Bridges is in his element as the duplicitous priest. Hamm and Lewis Pullman — who plays the motel’s pathetic clerk — are the focal point of the must-have humor. Johnson, Eviro, Hemsworth and the rest of the cast provide the surprises.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” is the brainchild of writer-director Drew Goddard (“The Martian”). Call this one Quentin Tarantino-light. The dialogue isn’t as sharp, but it has lots entertaining, quite-violent twists, and the same storytelling style as Tarantino’s early films.
If this brand of movie is your thing, you’ll definitely want to check into the El Royale for a short stay.
Movie name: ‘Bad Times at El Royale’
Director: Drew Goddard
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Eviro, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman, Lewis Pullman
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for mature themes, violence and language. It’s playing at the AMC Kennewick 12, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.