Metascore
36

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 7 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 7
  2. Negative: 3 out of 7
  1. 63
    Director Stephen Purvis and writer Chris Haddock never rise above the material's inherent pulpiness, but they keep the twists coming until the very end.
  2. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    60
    An ambitious, low-budget neo-noir, Stephen Purvis' El Cortez navigates the genre's tawdry twists and crosses and double-crosses with intermittent flair.
  3. Reviewed by: Luke Y. Thompson
    40
    Every "twist" is so telegraphed that there's little suspense here. Phillips' performance is an enjoyable change of pace, and the gratuitous sex scene with Middendorf is fairly hot, but the story's just an aggravating wait for the inevitable double-crosses. For it to be a true lowbrow pleasure, more sex would be needed.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    40
    Perhaps in an effort to root the film in the genre, the dialogue reaches for a particular hard-boiled register but grasps only clichés. El Cortez, like so many before it, searches for that nugget in the genre mine but just doesn't find it.
  5. Sharing its title with a historic Reno hotel that's seen better days (or maybe not), El Cortez is a clumsy lump of ponderous pulp fiction with "Cooler" aspirations.
  6. The script, by Chris Haddock, leaves numerous questions unanswered. It also reflects the character depth and conversational complexity of a 14-year-old’s first effort at fiction.
  7. 25
    Lou Diamond Phillips is let down by an uninspired supporting cast, including Bruce Weitz as a crippled con artist and Tracy Middendorf as the requisite femme fatale, a clichéd script, and flat direction by Stephen Purvis.

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