Hotel Artemis Review
The trailer for Hotel Artemis had more than a whiff of John Wick about it, set inside a rundown art-deco style private hospital for injured criminals, accessed by paid-up members whenever they need. In truth there isn’t much more to the film beyond that basic concept, with a strong cast struggling to make something out of a below average script that teases some interesting ideas and rough sketches, without mustering together the brain power to colour inside the lines.
Strangely, the story takes place in a dystopian future a decade ahead of our own, bringing to mind flashes of John Carpenter’s Escape From L.A as the city is on lockdown while a full scale riot kicks into action. The reasons why are pretty patchy, but it has something to do with a corporation and the privatisation of water - none of which adds any value or further substance to the story.
The Artemis is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster), who is assisted by her dependable assistant “healthcare professional” Everest (Dave Bautista). Their latest guests are the bloodied up Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), both fresh from a botched bank heist. Other guests currently being housed include Sofia Boutella’s assassin Nice and Charlie Day’s arms dealer, Acapulco. The owner of the hospital and most of Los Angeles, Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum), is on his way in urgent need of assistance, aided by his temperamental son Crosby (Zachary Quinto).
And that’s about it. Writer-director Drew Pearce tries to juggle about four subplots under the one roof, each one eventually converging into the expected last stand that extracts further Carpenter-esque influences from Assault on Precinct 13, but even at a brief 90 minutes it feels like a stretch. The film is crying out for some decent dialogue or inventive action to lift it out of its mediocre state as it saunters along without ever being able to make something from a decent enough set-up.
An over-stylised set overcompensates for the lack of personality in the characters and even in a neo-noir such as this, memorable onscreen criminals need more than nice make-up and a sharp wardrobe. Boutella is once again the ‘sexy’ assassin, a role clearly suited to her statuesque physique as an ex-dancer, but one that became tired some time ago. She has a charismatic presence and must surely want more from her career than kicking the ass of bad guys in a dress.
Elsewhere in the cast, Brown is effective enough as the clichéd thief desperate to get out of the game but who keeps getting dragged back in. Jodie Foster is ladened with an unnecessary backstory designed to add some emotional heft yet it feels as empty as the rest of the half-finished stories knocking round the hospital. Goldblum isn’t in the film for long but again you get the feeling he can no longer escape just being Jeff Goldblum in every role he's cast into.
At first glance there seems to be a lot going on in Hotel Artemis but take one step back and you’ll see it's pretty light on ideas, and for all the punches thrown in the latter stages it's that kind of zest that is sorely missing across the board. It’s a film badly in need of a defibrillator to get the blood pumping, because it starts to flatline far too easily without putting up much of a fight.