Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, Jenny Slate, Brian Tyree Henry, and Zachary Quinto
Director: Drew Pearce
When I first saw the trailer for Drew Pearce’s Hotel Artemis, I thought it was a John Wick spinoff. It shares the similar premise of a hotel where, if you have a membership, you cannot be harmed or killed, simply because it’s the “number one rule” as stated and reminded several times throughout the film by The Nurse (Jodie Foster). And while Hotel Artemis borrows from many other films, it still manages to pull off a unique perspective on the genre, and one which is gripping from start to finish.
This is Jodie Foster’s first film in several years, her last being Elysium starring Matt Damon, and her appearance on screen is as delightful as ever. She nails every scene and keeps the film exciting and interesting. Her character, The Nurse, is a troubled woman who struggles with alcoholism due to the tragic death of her son. She now runs the infamous yet mythical Hotel Artemis, located in L.A. This is a safehouse where criminals can rest or hide from either foes, or the police. But only if you have a membership. If you don’t, you’re carelessly thrown outside by The Nurse’s intimidating, yet warming henchman: Everest (Dave Bautista). Once inside the hotel, you must follow the list of rules put in place by The Nurse. The number one most important rule: do not kill on the hotel grounds. This makes for a suspenseful adventure as we see criminals arguing amongst each other, but knowing they aren’t allowed to kill…
We first meet Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) at the climax of a failed bank robbery, him and his brother, Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), along with another criminal, attempt to make their way to the Hotel to safety. The Artemis is quite run down and decayed, and Is barely functioning; the power is constantly cutting out, and the bottom floors are completely locked off. Inside the hotel are two other guests, Nice (Sofia Boutella) and Acapulco (Charlie Day), who occupy two of the rooms on the 12th floor – the only functioning floor. Nice is a glamorous, yet ruthless assassin who’s hired to “kill important people”. Acapulco is a racist, misogynist, and everything else that ends with ‘-ist’. His arrogance and plain nastiness only works due to Day’s performance. Boutella’s performance is also excellent. She has consistently put out top-notch portrayals over the past couple of years in films like Atomic Blonde and The Mummy. And while those films are relatively poor in quality, Boutella shines in both of them, and she’s definitely becoming a favourite of mine.
The cinematography is done well. The film is shot with such passion, and the smooth flow of the camerawork really immerses the audience in the experience. The eerie and dark look of the film creates an effective tone as well. Pearce’s script can lack substance in parts, but the actors deliver the lines so well that it becomes unnoticed and irrelevant.
My main issue with Hotel Artemis is it’s length. Now I don’t mean it’s long. It has a short runtime of just 96-minutes. Now this means the film doesn’t drag and it doesn’t have any time to be boring. But it’s just too short. The conclusion of the film is rushed and unclear. We don’t find out what happens to certain characters, and it leaves you with a feeling of dissatisfaction because of it. However, the majority of the film is paced relatively well and there are no boring or slow scenes at all.
Hotel Artemis is full of great characters paired with a stellar cast. The writing is decent and the plot, while borrowed and imitated, is interesting. The performances are phenomenal, and Jeff Goldblum always makes any film that much better. The pacing in the first two acts is great, but fails in the third. The ending was very rushed and leaves you with an element of confusion. But Hotel Artemis is more than just ‘good’, and definitely one to check out!