Film Review: Hotel Artemis (2018)

‘A fantastic performance by Foster’

Hotel Artemis, 2018

Directed by: Drew Pearce

Starring: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, Dave Bautista

 

In June 2028 the privatisation of water has caused large numbers of riots in Los Angeles; this enables a group of four men to be able to rob a bank and have the confusion caused by the rioters as a distraction. After an altercation with the police leaves brothers Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) and Lev (Brian Tyree Henry) seriously injured, they make an appointment to check into the Hotel Artemis; a secret membership-only hotel/hospital where Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs) heals criminals. On this particular Wednesday, though, the Hotel Artemis will see much more chaos than normal.

I went into this film with not much expectation (the trailers looked okay), and I was blown away by how much fun this film actually was. The performances are great; Foster is fantastic in her role as is Dave Bautista (Avengers: Infinity War) as Everest, a bodyguard/health care professional, who manages to once again utilise the great comedic style (albeit in a much more subtle performance than as part of the Guardians) while also looking menacing with his physique. There’s also surprisingly some great characters involved and a real sense of history behind them, despite everyone essentially being criminals. Jean Thomas has the most backstory, with the death of her son and her subsequent drinking which lead to her losing her medical licence and being recruited by The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum, Thor: Ragnarok) to run the Hotel Artemis, but there are subtle hints throughout of histories between characters. Sherman and Nice (Sofia Boutella, Atomic Blonde) have a history, as does Nice and another resident, and there is a nice moment between Morgan (Jenny Slate, Despicable Me 3) and Jean. The characters feel connected to one another which helps the overall story.

Hotel Artemis, 1

However, while the characters are well written, the plot unfortunately falters. There are so many avenues in this film where there are incidents or plot twists that end up unresolved; such as Morgan’s inclusion. The ending also feels really flat, despite the action sequence, as villains are bested with ease in some scenarios despite The Wolf King supposedly running Los Angeles (so surely he should hire people who can actually fight). Jean’s fear of the outside world is fully shown in one scene but in another she’s running outside without a care in the world and there’s a character included to just be a comedic presence who doesn’t end up helping the film in any way. There’s a lot of needless additions in this film, which in a 94-minute run-time really emphases the overall lack of a plot they had going in (if they can’t fill 94-minutes without needless sub-plots then it obviously isn’t that strong to begin with).

But the strange directions and writing choices don’t interfere too much with the film’s enjoyment; it’s a fun action film with a rather unique setting (a hospital for criminals) in a futuristic world not too unbelievable from our own (in the UK there’s always talk of privatising the NHS) so it’s not too farfetched to assume maybe water is being privatised which is causing mass outbreaks of violence. Its use of comedy helps, as well, and Dave Bautista is following in the footsteps of John Cena in realising he is a WWE star who excels in comedy, yet can offer a physical presence to the scene, too. All of that surrounds a fantastic performance by Foster, who offers comedy, sadness and seriousness. Unfortunately it also surrounds a poorly written plot with needless directions and unresolved sub-plots.

 

Personal: * * * *     Acting: * * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * *

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