Review: Hotel Artemis
Drew Pearce’s first full-length feature is an entertaining one, loaded with easy-to-digest action set within a criminal underworld loaded with a unyielding set of rules. Hotel Artemis is way more concerned with having a good time rather than wasting it. This means you’ll get underdeveloped characters or characters developed just enough, but nonetheless every single player pulls you in with their amazing contributions to the simplistic material. This is not a slight when I say simple either; sometimes a little simple is all that is needed at the cinema.
2028 seems to be a rough year for Los Angeles as unrelenting riots sweep through the city. Standing tall and always open for business, Hotel Artemis takes in criminals that need healing from bullets and knife wounds they collect in their line of work. Running the Hotel is The Nurse played by Jodie Foster, and she runs a tight ship. Even with the world burning all around them, to her it’s “Just another Wednesday.” For decades, her job has been to patch up LA’s worst when they can’t scramble to a hospital for fear of being arrested. She gives them rooms to convalesce which in turn become their names in a very Reservoir Dogs fashion. We never quite learn the characters real names save a few yet it works entirely to the film’s favor.
Jodie Foster really brings the goods in this film with her traumatized, yet still able to function under ridiculous pressure nurse. The film has several hilarious performances too. A weasel-like Zachary Quinto, a smooth Jeff Goldblum and the huge expressive eyes of Sterling K. Brown all give this thing a lot of juice, but Jodie is the film’s heart and truly the key reason why this will hold years later. She embraces this troubled soul wholly flipping between jokes and tears effortlessly. I would argue that she anchors a film that could easily be mistaken as a pointless action romp, and never goes big in a role that could have easily been played big.
Hotel Artemis can be criticized for trying too hard with the Sterling K. Brown plotline. The focus should be 100% on Jodie’s character, but it is understood that they both have a similar journey so it is easier to swallow. I just wish Brown had a bit more to chew on here than a bad sibling holding him back. His exchanges with The Nurse throughout the picture are quite touching. They have gone down miles of road together and it shows. We also get a Marvel Hallway Fight ™ which might receive a few groans at your screening, but that is contrasted by the fact that yet again Sofia Boutella will stomp you into next week and look powerful as hell doing it. Is it in her contract to always be the baddest mother in the room? Not complaining, just saying. Hotel Artemis still works despite these tiny clashes, succeeding by sticking to the fact that love and beautiful things can happen in the world of killers and thieves.
Hotel Artemis will draw comparisons to the likes of The Purge, John Wick, even Smokin' Aces, but it pulls away from the pack by emphasizing honor amongst villains as its foundation to back the coolness it projects. Basically, a bare bones ride, yet never hollow or pointless. Characters are cool and very one note, but they stick to the laws Pearce sets in motion, making for a piece that plays fair with it’s audience. It’s selling ice cream and you get delicious ice cream. Give it a fair shake and buckle up for everything Jodie brings to the table.