Hotel Artemis is exactly the kind of movie that Stars and Popcorn was designed for.
It’s one that has its fair share of cinematic kerfluffles from story structure to pacing. However, it’s a lot of fun. This is mostly because it has a cast that is given roles that they excel at. It’s such an odd assortment of actors that came together to create a stylish film that seems familiar yet unique at the same time.
There are rules at the Hotel Artemis, a secret, high tech hospital for the underworld of Los Angeles. In order to remain a member of this elite criminal’s emergency room, you have to respect the staff and the other patients, much in the same way that The Continental from John Wick has rules. It’s neutral ground where egos, grudges, and guns have to be checked at the door. The reason for these rules is because it houses an odd assortment of colorful characters from all walks of life. The only thing they all share in common is that they are the worst of the worst when it comes to dirty dealings in a city known for its outlaws.
Jodi Foster stars as the nurse that runs the Hotel Artemis. She’s a washed-up drunk who has long since lost her medical license, but not her skills when it comes to saving the lives of those who probably shouldn’t be saved. Foster’s portrayal of Nurse is much richer than the character probably deserves in a sci-fi action film. Tormented by the death of her son, she hasn’t set foot outside the hotel for decades due to crippling anxiety. Despite this she is a no-nonsense tough as nails caretaker who won’t hesitate to call upon her orderly, Everest, played by David Bautista, to expel unruly guests from the premises. Her character is the very cornerstone of the film and what everything and everyone is built off of.
The rest of the cast features the likes of Sophia Boutella as a beautiful and deadly assassin, Sterling K. Brown as a devastatingly handsome bank robber, and Charlie Day as an obnoxiously entitled arms dealer. The three are at odds given that the hotel houses criminals and criminals can’t be trusted, and to make matters worse a full-blown riot is taking place on the streets below. Luckily, there is honor among thieves for the most part. That doesn’t last long though, because, well, what fun would that be?
Hotel Artemis is the feature directorial debut of Drew Pearce, who also wrote the film. While he’s proven to be an exceptions writer in the past his directing isn’t quite up to par with the concepts and characters he’s put together. While the actors all do what they do best with the roles they’re given, the pacing and cinematography feel flat, which undermines the urgency of the situation. There’s such a focus on putting together the leads in the film, that the overall threat that they end up facing by the end of the film doesn’t feel like it’s truly worthy of them and ends with a disappointing third act.
Despite the cinematic issues Hotel Artemis faces, it is fun watching events unfold. Brown is unbelievably charming as a suave and debonair bank robber trying to get out of the underworld once and for all. Most of his scenes are shared with Boutella who has exploded onto the scene since Kingsman: The Secret Service. Since then she’s become a name I look for on movie posters and while her films might not always be great, I’m never disappointed in her performances. Then there is Bautista who has become incredibly popular since joining the MCU and is an actor that takes his art very seriously. He’s someone who remains humble and works hard for everything he has. While the role of Everest might not be as juicy as say, Sapper in Blade Runner 2049, he manages to use his imposing physicality perfectly in Hotel Artemis.
As we like to say here, “not all great movies are good.” That isn’t to say that Hotel Artemis is a great movie, because it definitely isn’t. However, it’s a fun movie. It’s a film that is mindless entertainment with enough interesting concepts (from medical nanites to 3D printing organs) to keep audiences intrigued with what’s unfolding. It’s just unfortunate that it never seems to achieve what it’s aiming for. At its core, it’s a film with great characters and an interesting premises, so much so that it almost feels wasted. That being said, it still a movie that I quite enjoyed sitting through. There are certainly better films that came out this week, but I feel like Hotel Artemis really rounds out the choices at the cinema. It’s not a movie for everyone, but for those who enjoy trashy movies with reliable and talented actors, it’s definitely going to hit the spot.