REVIEW – “Hotel Artemis”
A futuristic Los Angeles in the midst of crumbling is a setting that has been used for many science fiction films throughout the years, but in Drew Pearce’s Hotel Artemis it is essentially only a backdrop to the core concept and world-building on display. The film primarily focuses on the titular Hotel Artemis, which is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) and her assistant Everest (Dave Bautista) as they navigate their way through a typical week at the hotel. The idea here is that if you pay a yearly fee, you are able to use the hotel as a resort to lay low from other criminals/ authorities and receive medical treatment if you need it and whenever you need it. There are many rules mentioned throughout the film, but the point is made abundantly clear throughout that secrecy, trust, and the agreement to not kill one another on the property are the core rules that have made the hotel last as long as it has.
As the film begins, we are introduced to the criminals that are occupying the hotel’s rooms on this particular night. A pair of robbers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry), a shady business man with a drug habit (Charlie Day), and an assassin (Sofia Boutella). We are given nicknames for these characters, but one of the coolest things about this film is that we never learn their real names or fully dig into their pasts. They are just criminals who happen to be staying at the same place with one another and are trying their hardest to not kill one another in the process. One of my favorite sequences in the film is one between Charlie Day (who nearly steals the entire movie) and Sofia Boutella in a heated conversation with one another – an unexpected pairing, but that’s half of what makes it so entertaining to watch. Throughout the film, the hotel gets more occupied with more guests – like a mysterious cop (Jenny Slate) and the Kingpin of LA, The Wolf King (beautifully portrayed by Jeff Goldblum).
As I previously stated, all of this is essentially a backdrop to the wonderful word-building that oozes from this film in nearly every sequence. Whatever shortcomings that Hotel Artemis may have in terms of its characters and script, it certainly makes up for in being a stylish, engaging, and endlessly fascinating science-fiction film that opens the doorways for even more stories to be told either at this hospital or at others like it around the world. This isn’t to take away from the singular film we have here, but I do consider it to be high-praise when a film ends and I immediately want another form of storytelling that brings me back into that world.
While the film remains entertaining all the way through, the best elements here really come into fruition in the third act of the film. At this point we have characters reaching surprising emotional places, some legitimately tense and exciting moments of action, and a great sense of payoff that Drew Pearce does a genuinely great job at building up towards for the film’s entire 90 minutes. Hotel Artemis is far from what I consider to be a great film, but I do consider it to be a great time at the theater. Whatever Drew Pearce decides to tackle as his next project, I’ll be fascinated to see what he does and how he evolves – as this is a really solid debut. 3.5/5.