After a few big-budget films in the last few weeks, I thought I needed a bit of a change of pace. I came across the trailer for this while surfing YouTube for videos about films (I don’t get out much) and thought the premise was cool enough, even if it was somewhat reminiscent of the hotel from John Wick expanded into a full movie, a thought that never seemed to leave me throughout the run-time.
Besides that, it boasts a talented cast, and stylish looking direction, so I thought it was worth a go.
Set in a dystopian future, and during the worst riot in Los Angeles’ history, a bank heist goes horribly wrong, and Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) takes his mortally-wounded brother to the secretive Hotel Artemis, a specialist members-only hospital for criminals, ran by a nurse with a murky past (Jodie Foster) as the events of the night devolve into chaos.
Hotel Artemis has slipped under the radar somewhat, buried under a tidal wave of big studio releases, and when a film has the acting return of Jodie Foster, that’s bizarre. Granted it isn’t a big, glitzy production, it’s a more stylised and lower-budget fare with a good idea, good ideas don’t always buy success as unfortunate as that is.
As I said in the very first paragraph, this premise may seem familiar to fans of John Wick, albeit more expanded and under different parameters. I don’t want to dwell on that too much as the hotel in John Wick was one part of a much bigger beast, whereas this hinges on that premise for its entire run-time, that has the potential to run thin after a while, so the success of the film hinged on the strength of its characters and how they interlink.
Thankfully there are strong characters for the film to base itself around, The Nurse character has the most potential given how little is established about her and the film is smart in how it gradually feeds her backstory to the audience and how she links to other characters and the more you learn, the more you connect with her, what she’s been through and why she is where she is, and it’s a real treat to see Jodie Foster back on our screens and her casting is a perfect one, she brings gravity and humanity to a character who can sometimes seem cold and aloof.
Another actor who impressed me here was Dave Bautista, who to me, improves in every film he’s in, Drax was one of my favourite things about Guardians Vol 2 and I think he has a lot more to offer than bland muscle-man, and while his character here does sometimes devolve into a generic ‘muscle’ character, there are flashes of something more in his portrayal, that he is more than just a muscle-man, and I think we need to see more of that from him.
Whilst I enjoyed Hotel Artemis, it’s not above descending into generic violence, despite its more interesting parts, I think some of the choices are to the detriment of the film, specifically Zachary Quinto’s character often seems like a cheap way of raising the tension, when there’s enough tense scenarios in the film to build around and it seems like it was looking for a reason for more stylistically choreographed violence, again, not always a bad thing as its direction is very easy on the eye and incredibly stylish, but often feels unneeded.
Put all these parts together and it makes Hotel Artemis an enjoyable, if somewhat disposable, experience. Its short running time (94 minutes) helps its case as well, as it keeps a swift pace and tells it’s contained story efficiently, had it been longer it would have felt bloated and padded, as it is, it’s just the right run time.
In conclusion, Hotel Artemis is a fun action-thriller that stretches it’s thin premise just the right amount with likeable character that engage with, it’s nothing that stands out as special in today’s market, but definitely worth a look.