Hotel Artemis Review
If there are no rooms left at The Continental...
An all-star cast band together as a motley crew of criminals in this stylish and pulpy dystopian thriller.A hotel (/hospital/sanctuary/lair) where criminals congregate, following a strict set of laws put in place by a formidable owner… no, this isn’t John Wick, but Hotel Artemis. Similarities in bare-bones plot details aside, 2018’s film is unique, original and not like much that has come before.
It’s 2028 in Los Angeles, and things are bleak. There’s no clean water, there’s virtually no law, and everywhere you look there’s (at best) a fist fight breaking out. Where’s a well-meaning and desperate criminal to go? Hotel Artemis, helmed by The Nurse (a welcome return by Jodie Foster), who has been holding the fort within the hotel’s walls for two decades.
The Nurse is ably assisted by Everest (Dave Bautista), who can only be described as an enforcer on tap. The hotel’s purpose is essential to administer running repairs to the criminals, and provide them a sanctuary away from the cops – assuming they abide by the Artemis' rules. This is achieved through a mixture of questionable narcotics and a rather marvellous 3D printer, which is a godsend for when you need to rustle up a new criminally-inclined liver.
This hotel’s guest list is star-studded, and the cast, many of whom deliver excellent performances, is one of the major plus points for the film.
The honoured guests are known only by their room names, which leads to colourful monikers. There’s Waikiki (Sterling K Brown), a talented bank robber who’s stuck with his reckless brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry); Nice (Sofia Boutella), a clinical and mysterious assassin; and Acapulco (Charlie Day), a roundly awful arms dealer.
Along the way we’re also introduced to Crosby Franklin (Zachary Quinto) and his father the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum). The Wolf King is essentially the ruler of this city, and the leader of the underworld. He’s brought to Hotel Artemis to save his life, much like Morgan (Jenny Slate), a policewoman who knew The Nurse in her previous, shadowy life.
This hotel’s guest list is certainly star-studded, and the cast, many of whom deliver excellent performances (unsurprisingly Goldblum and Foster are real highpoints), is one of the major plus points for the film.
When things really should be kicking into gear in the final third, however, the film runs out of momentum. The stakes don’t seem high enough, and there’s not enough tension to carry the film home on a high. Some of the payoffs towards the end turns out to be more formulaic than what this unique film deserved. A film with Jeff Goldblum as the king of the criminal underworld really shouldn’t end up being predictable.
It’s worth checking in to the hotel to check it out.
The vision of the film is impressive – bold, singular and very striking. The trouble is that this incredibly atmospheric aesthetic and backdrop never really becomes more than that; the constant violent tension in the city isn’t really expanded upon and there’s always a sense that the film hasn’t quite lived up to its potential.
This is Drew Pearce’s directorial debut (he previously worked as a screenwriter on Iron Man 3and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation), and he uses it well. The world of the film is a remarkable one, and one that probably deserves to be explored more. The film is funny, and for the most part moves at a great pace.
It’s a fun film, perfect for those summer Saturday nights, but that’s about it. The plot leaves something to be desired, and we could do without so much of some of the characters (Acapulco) and a lot more of others (Waikiki). That being said, if only because it’s a singular film with good direction, some funny lines, a stellar cast, fantastic art design and a cult classic charm, it’s worth checking in to the hotel to check it out.
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