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New Release Review - HOTEL ARTEMIS

HOTEL ARTEMIS review
Various criminals seek refuge at a Los Angeles hotel.







Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Drew Pearce

Starring: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, Dave Bautista

HOTEL ARTEMIS poster

Welcome to the Hotel Artemis, a members-only secret lair for criminals in a pickle during a tumultuous period of future Los Angeles, torn apart by riots. The criminals are given respite in a safe space where the rules are no guns, no cops and no killing other patients. Quite obviously, the narrative of Hotel Artemis descends into one where the characters break those rules. The double crossings and bizarre tactics of the kooky characters may have been easily predictable if it all wasn't such a mess to follow.

HOTEL ARTEMIS

Drew Pearce, the writer/director, has crafted a crazy universe with several terrific actors who all bring various pleasures to the ensemble. It’s a pleasure in itself to see Sterling K. Brown in his first leading role in a film. He brings the goods as Sherman, a smart thief who quickly robs a bank with a few fellows (one of whom is played by Atlanta favourite Brian Tyree Henry) and bounces out straight to the Hotel where he’s admitted by Jean Thomas aka the Nurse, the fearless but agoraphobic healer and leader embodied by the legendary Jodie Foster, perfectly cast as the conflicted character.

Another scene-stealer is Dave Bautista, who, with each film, threatens to steal the thunder of Dwayne Johnson and John Cena as the WWE star with the most talent as a professional actor, or at least the one carving a Hollywood career with the most interesting choices (even if they aren’t all Blade Runner 2049). Charlie Day shows range as Acapulco, a criminal with a mind full of all the “isms” and an unfiltered mouth to spout them, a role so diabolical to the point where he’s unrecognisable as the naturally likeable actor we all know. Sofia Boutella continues her hot streak of kicking ass, and rounding up the cast are a game Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate and Jeff Goldblum, all of them holding their own opposite the icon of cinema that is Foster.

HOTEL ARTEMIS

Like many depictions of the future, the characters go by unusual names - The Wolf King, Honolulu, Nice, P-22 - except in this case those are all code names based on the suite of the hotel they occupy. Also, like in many depictions of the future, graffiti looks to be the primary form of protest. Pearce doesn’t add anything new in his vision of American dystopia except that ordinary pistols look like present-day flare guns. The future has seldom played out so confusingly, though. The nonsensical plot is hard to follow, tracking several characters and each of their stories, then tracking them navigating their present-day circumstances, and their ever-changing relationships with each other, making it almost impossible to connect with any of them.

There’s an absence of satisfaction in Hotel Artemis as an action picture too. Is it plenty of action that constitutes what an action film is or are a few big sequences enough, as in this movie? Due to the divorce of plot and intrigue, there’s a dearth of audience engagement in between Hotel Artemis’ admittedly well-choreographed punching and shooting scenes, at least until the satisfyingly chaotic third act where total mayhem commences and the rules are violently thrown out of the window. Hotel Artemis is sort of an inferior descendant of John Wick, with the hotel traded for a hospital.

HOTEL ARTEMIS

Maybe the point isn’t to say something new about the future, or even tell a story that makes sense. Pearce bleeds with ideas and it’s just easier to simply sit back and let the bright colours and big action and hot-headed criminals assault our senses. The sad thing is that, overall, it leaves us cold at the end, despite the attempts at drawing our tears through deaths that affect some of the genuinely sympathetic individuals in the nefarious world.

Hotel Artemis is in UK/ROI cinemas July 20th.



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