Hotel Artemis review: An all-star quirky cast unite for a night of chaos in this criminal caper from the writer of Iron Man 3.
Hotel Artemis review by Kat Hughes.
Elysium was the last time that we saw Jodie Foster on screen. Since then she’s focused on directing (Money Monster, Black Mirror), but writer and first-time director Drew Pearce has coaxed her back in front of the camera for Hotel Artemis. Here she plays a character simply referred to as ‘Nurse’, whom runs a hospital and hideout for criminals. Set in 2028 Los Angeles, during a civil riot over water (which is now a highly priced commodity), Hotel Artemis shows one very busy night for Nurse and her helper, Everest (Dave Bautista).
The world of Hotel Artemis is filled with stylised characters and visuals. Each character is given a code name – depending on what ‘suite’ they have been placed into – and each is a very definitive type of character. Nurse herself is a barely functioning alcoholic whom lives by the rules of her establishment, Everest is a man-mountain obsessed with telling people he’s a ‘healthcare professional’, Nice (Sofia Boutella) is the sultry business-like assassin, Acapulco (Charlie Day) is the sleazy arms-dealer, and Waikiki (Sterling K Brown) is the criminal trying to get out. It’s a stock batch of characters that we’ve dealt with a thousand times before, and Pearce doesn’t develop them beyond this basic description. Most of these characters were also meant to have history and pre-existing relationships, but once again, they’re not really fleshed out, leaving everything rather muddled and the audience scratching their heads as to what’s really going on.
Our cast do a great job of trying to get us to understand their characters, but the one-dimensional writings doesn’t give them much to work with. The result is that Foster just plays Nurse as a quirky recluse, Boutella plays a mixture of roles we’ve seen her play previously, and Dave Bautista ends up channelling Drax, only this time with less make-up. Even Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum fail to ignite the screen as their daddy issue riddled son and kingpin father duo.
Visually, Pearce and his team has spent a lot of time working on the design and aesthetic of the building. Everything looks simultaneously high-end and dilapidated, but nothing is quite of this world. There’s an over-reliance on shooting in dimly lit rooms and, towards the end, purely in red light that washes out some of the painstaking production design. You might want to stock up on the carrots pre-screening as outside of the first five minutes, the film is set entirely at night and inside the barely-lit hotel; it’s a strain on the eyes.
Clearly inspired by the likes of John Wick and Smokin’ Aces, you can’t help but compare Hotel Artemis to them, and sadly Artemis doesn’t hold up to either. Artemis is obviously inspired by Wick’s Continental with all its rules and such, but it just can’t quite generate that same magic. It also fails to capture the chaos and developed inter-locking character plot-lines of Smokin Aces. The result is a film that is derivative of both, but which also fails to capitalise on either’s successes. All style, no substance, Hotel Artemis will be forgotten soon after checking out of the cinema screen.
Hotel Artemis review by Kat Hughes, July 2018.
Hotel Artemis arrives in cinemas across the UK from 20th July 2018.