Hotel Artemis (2018)
Starring: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by: Drew Pearce
Written by: Drew Pearce
Rating: R Running Time: 1 hr 33 min.
My 2 Cents:
In a near-future Los Angeles, ravaged by riots over water shortages, The Nurse (Jodi Foster) struggles to run a secret, members only emergency room for criminals.
This sounded like a great premise to me. Take The Continental from the movie John Wick, along with its rules for criminal conduct, make it a part hospital, and drop it into a near-future dystopian hell. Then, add a great cast, some futuristic looking medical tech, and assemble a group of criminal characters with competing agendas. Great premise, lots of potential, bad film.
The problems with Hotel Artemis stem from its poorly developed world building and characters. What John Wick does with a few lines of dialogue to establish The Continental and its rules, Hotel Artemis struggles to achieve over the entire length of the film. The “hows” and “whys” of its creation are eventually revealed, but its place within America’s criminal network is never settled as anything that feels substantial. There are rules of conduct, but other than having a huge orderly called Everest (Dave Bautista) there’s no way to convincingly enforce them. No massive organization the players in this world fear enough to abide by the rules.
Hotel Artemis also can’t seem to decide if it wants to focus on The Nurses’ tragic past and anxiety issues, or Waikiki’s (Sterling K. Brown) family problems and inability to go straight. The story eventually tries to blend these threads together, but neither one feels properly resolved.
Supporting characters in Hotel Artemis are a mixed bag of tricks. Sofia Boutella’s, Nice, a French assassin, has a reason to be at the hotel and Sofia gets one decent combat scene, but the woefully miscast Charlie Day as Acapulco, doesn’t get to be anything more than an as-required foil, shoehorned into scenes in order to complicate matters for everyone else. He’s whatever the scene needs basically, a jerk, a whiny coward, the comic relief, and there is little to no logic dictating his character’s attitude and/or actions. Dave Bautista’s Everest is one of the film’s better elements, and he’s great as the loyal bodyguard/orderly. Jeff Goldblum makes a charming addition to the cast, but he’s only in the film for a few minutes.
If there is an additional upside to any of this beyond Dave Bautista’s performance, it was watching Jodi Foster work with this kind of material. She can’t save the film (no performance could I think) but she does a good job with what she’s given to work with. She was the only character worth caring about in the end, but the conclusion to her character’s story was disappointing.