Hotel Artemis is in some ways a modern take on Escape from L.A. The world is in turmoil and people are taking to the streets of Los Angeles to commit crime.
The movie follows The Nurse (Jodie Foster), who manages a super-secret, members-only hospital which specializes in patching up criminals and sending them on their merry way. She is aided by her faithful, orderly Everest (Dave Bautista).
Amidst the chaos, Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) decide to rob a bank. But after an altercation with the police they have to visit Hotel Artemis, where they meet other criminals under The Nurse’s care. This establishment has strict rules (including no guns and no killing) but these rules quickly go out the window as the Artemis is dragged into the surrounding riots.
This is a feature directorial debut for Drew Pearce, who also wrote the screenplay (having previously written Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation). There is nothing outstanding about his work here as far as direction is concerned. It’s the concept and execution of the script which is brilliant, allowing the prominent cast members to really shine.
Jodie Foster does a fantastic job portraying her character with dry wit and a cynicism that only comes from dealing with the worst of the worst. However, she also has to hide her emotions from those who could exploit it. Everything she does here works so well. The Nurse has this hurried shuffle around the hotel which is absolutely amazing to watch.
Additionally, Sterling K. Brown continues to impress audiences with his performances. Especially in scenes with Foster, Brown actually props up this movie, which is mightily impressive. Many would say that Sofia Boutella and Dave Bautista have been coasting through Hollywood, which is far from the truth. Boutella as Nice really works well within the ensemble and her action scenes are by far the best in the movie. Meanwhile Bautista is brilliant, displaying a nice range in his performance. It’s a pleasant surprise and although the naysayers may say he is just playing Drax without the makeup, that’s not true.
Someone who couldn’t hit his stride is Charlie Day as Acapulco. After his overacting in Pacific Rim, here he plays a slimy, racist, misogynist weapons dealer. Day’s acting is just too much and his character felt painfully out of place. Jeff Goldblum’s blink-and-you-miss-it appearance as Niagara really elevates an already tense situation, although his son, played by Zachary Quinto, is very cliché. The youngest of multiple sons, he’s hot-headed and wants to prove himself to his father. Nothing we haven’t seen before.
Hotel Artemis is an enjoyable experience. It is simultaneously funny and dark, and feels fresh despite comparisons to other existing films. The action, while not a huge element of the movie, is very well done and there are some fantastic performances on show. The ending of the movie opens it up to a sequel and audiences would surely be more than happy to return to this world.
Image credit: Movie DB.