Bad Times at the El Royale

Every once in a while a movie comes along that draws you in without giving you any information in the previews. Well that’s exactly what we have here with Bad Times at the El Royale. The previews show a great cast with a cool 60’s atmosphere but not much in the way of plot. Now its true most movies try to keep the plot pretty wrapped up but in general you have a basic idea of what the movie is about before going to the theater. But in talking about this movie with friends and family I still literally had no idea what this movie was really about besides there are a bunch of strangers staying in a hotel. That is all and despite knowing almost nothing else about the movie I was still tremendously excited to see this one and couldn’t wait to get to the theater to check it out.

A lot of things to like about the second movie from director Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods). If you had seen his previous film then you know he has a unique style of story telling and you should be ready to expect the unexpected. The cast is very impressive here with a few standouts. Jeff Bridges is outstanding as Father Daniel Flynn, a forgetful priest. At this point in his career, Bridges is almost expected to turn out great performances so it shouldn’t surprise you when he delivers. Now what may surprise you is Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee, a charismatic fellow who steals the scene whenever he is on screen. I have not seen Hemsworth deliver a performance quite like this one so far in his career. The remaining characters all bring their own intrigue and mystery to the entire roller coaster of a film. Another interesting thing about the El Royale is the cinematography. There are lots of unusual camera angles and scrolling views that help heighten the suspense. I also really enjoyed the set design of the hotel itself. It absolutely nailed the time period and really helps reel you into the feeling of being in 1969 (or somewhere there abouts).

While this movie is absolutely enjoyable it is not without its blemishes. I did feel that the movie dragged a bit through some scenes on its way to the 141 minute run time which can be a bit long for those with shorter attention spans. I also found myself wanting a little more background on a few characters. Additionally there are some branches of the plot that get mentioned and then stay unresolved. I didn’t find too much to complain about beyond those things but it indeed kept it from a perfect review.

In the end all you really want out of a movie theater trip is to be entertained and this movie surely does that much. If you are looking for a wild ride then sit down, strap in and let this one blow your hair back with a rousing 2 Apology effort from Drew Goddard. Definitely looking forward to more entries to his filmography. I would recommend checking this one out if you get the chance.

-Movie Apologist

The Accountant (spoiler free)

As we exit the summer blockbuster movie season we can sometimes lower our expectations for entertainment at the theaters. Luckily for us, The Accountant does not allow itself to take advantage of those lowered expectations: it delivers fast paced action, a taut storyline, and talented actors to bring it all together. I never thought I would be excited to see a movie based on an accountant but I was very excited to see this movie as the previews looked excellent! I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible but I do recommend treading carefully if you have not seen the movie yet.

The movie starts with a pretty simple plot as we learn that Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an accountant even though he has a form of autism which affects his ability to interact with other people. Despite his condition he seems to make a very good living uncooking the books for various criminal organizations. A junior accountant (Anna Kendrick) at a medical prosthetic company seems to have found an error in the books with a very large sum of missing money. As Christian takes on his new client we learn that he has been on the radar of the US Treasury Department for several years. Ray King (JK Simmons), Director of Financial Crimes at the Treasury, is nearing his retirement and wants to amp up the effort to identify and capture the man they call “The Accountant”. They have little information about him beyond the fact that he does the books for very dangerous people and somehow manages to survive. But as the Treasury department tries to close in on their target and as Christian dives deeper into his assignment we get more into the story as the mystery unfolds.

I really enjoyed this movie as a whole. It has several strengths to stand on. Most of the actors are excellent. Ben Affleck turns in a very strong performance as an accountant with high functioning autism. He was smart, tough, and funny though sometimes unintentionally. JK Simmons is a well respected actor and delivers a no nonsense turn as Director of Financial Crimes. He does not do anything out of the ordinary but is consistently solid. The action scenes are fast and sometimes brutal but help deliver that kick of adrenaline that helps move this movie along during the story setup. Though the pacing can be a little slow at times, it uses these moments to develop the characters and the story into more of a mystery instead of just a basic shoot-em-up action flick. Though not a major twist, there is a pleasent twist that I did not see coming! They also mixed in some humor to keep the movie from becoming too serious.

There are not too many drawbacks for this film but indeed there are a few. Anna Kendrick does not offer much value as Dana Cummings, the junior accountant who discovers some anomalies in the books at the robotics company she works for. Beyond that one contribution she wears thin on the patience of the audience. I was also disappointed with John Lithgow as I really appreciate most of his work and I felt he didn’t have as much freedom to deliver a complex character that could match his talent level. Even though I enjoyed the story and was surprised by one of the plot twists, I did find it to be slightly predictable at times.

This movie really hit the mark for what I was in the mood to see. The action, story telling and quality acting made this stand out from other standard action movies that rely on over the top action with cheesy lines and no plot what so ever. I give “The Accountant” an excellent rating of 1 Apology and would absolutely recommend it to everyone who enjoys a movie with brains and brawn. This was a very good start to the fall movie season and hopefully it sets the table for many more entertaining trips to the theater for the rest of the year. Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on the movie below!

  • Movie Apologist