Anyone who's been waiting for Quentin Tarantino to make a Rat Pack movie might get that itch scratched by "Bad Times at the El Royale" (out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital), a post-heist thriller set in a rundown lodge on the California/Nevada border in 1969.
"El Royale" writer/director Drew Goddard was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for writing Ridley Scott's "The Martian." He worked on "Lost" and previously wrote and directed the horror comedy "Cabin in the Woods."
This new one feels like the movie he's been waiting his whole life to make, packed with allusions to Sinatra's beloved Cal/Neva Lodge, a Phil Spector/Joe Meek hybrid record producer, a Manson-but-handsome cult leader, FBI wiretapping, Vietnam PTSD and Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" (by way of "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Hateful Eight"). Oh, and there's a missing sex movie that might just star JFK.
That's a lot to digest, but it's the kind of movie insider stuff that actors love to play. Goddard attracted a stellar cast that features Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth and Cynthia Erivo. He even got Nick Offerman and Shea Whigham to take roles so small that they almost qualify as walk-ons. Anyone waiting for "Top Gun: Maverick" might want to check out that movie's young cast member Lewis Pullman as the Vietnam veteran hotel manager suffering from PTSD.
It's complicated, lots of folks are lying about who they are, and the whole mess take over two hours to unravel. There's amazing production design, fantastic (and expensive) music cues, and a whole lot of talking punctuated by bursts of surprisingly brutal violence.
Almost all of the actors get their dramatic death scenes, and the survivors may not be the characters you expect. Even with all of the explanations, not everything in this movie makes sense. If you're in love with the costumes, amazing set design, muscle cars and era-appropriate props, you probably won't care.