‘Hotel Artemis’ centers on a black-market, members-only hospital disguised as a hotel that treats criminals. Set in the near future, in a riot-filled Los Angeles the patients begin to pile up one night and the Nurse who runs the locations has trouble keeping the guests from acting within the strict set of rules.
I love ensemble casts, quirky story-lines, and films that leave the Hollywood gloss behind. Films like; ‘Snatch,’ ‘Free Fire,’ and ‘Fight Club’, for example with offbeat tones are usually appealing to me. I also prefer movies that are a little more subdued in their approach than the majority. By sticking to their focus, and not trying to do too much. ‘Hotel Artemis’ provided me with all of that while watching. It quickly sets the stage of a near martial-law society where criminals have the control. And from there it begins its progression through the layers of this hotel, and its business practices which I found very interesting and surprisingly well-structured.
Some may compare this one to ‘John Wick’ which I feel is a disservice. It does have a similar underlying theme of a secret location that houses members-only criminals, with a strict set of rules. But from there the comparisons stop because this one does have enough of its own elements to feel unique. It’s a dingy building, with a more practical infrastructure. It isn’t the Continental where things are paid for with gold coins you can’t exactly use at the 7-Eleven down the street. It isn’t wine, caviar, and tailored clothing. It’s a dark, smelly building that has seen its share of criminals, and the movie captures that perfectly.
I enjoyed the cold gritty tone. I loved the washed-out color pallet of the film overall, and with the production design it does more than enough to create an immersive setting for a seedy crime-thriller that plays out in real-time. Because that’s what this film is. It has its share of violence, but this isn’t an action film. It’s filled with action movie characters, but it uses them in a story that captures what happens between the heists, contract killings, and arms deals. Action films show our characters, in action. This one showed them in life, from their side of the lens almost, and I enjoyed the freshness it provided.
I also loved the pace the story-line held. It keeps things moving, quickly provides relevant backdrop for the characters and progresses through the night with a somewhat unpredictable path that does help maintain the intrigue. On the downside though. While it was entraining to watch this collection of unsavory individuals over the course of the night. I felt it was lacking some impact. It was engaging. My attention was locked in. But the film overall doesn’t have that punch that grabbed me. Making it a fun, well-crafted film, but not one with enough energy to make a strong lasting impression.
I did though love the performances all around. Jodie Foster was excellent in the lead role as The Nurse that runs the hotel. She was quirky, comical, charming at times, and when the script needed she was able to turn on the emotion with ease. Sterling K. Brown’s performance was also more than enough for a capable lead. He has some intense expressions and mannerisms, and he carried an intelligence about himself that blended perfectly with his criminal capabilities to make for an interesting character. Sofia Boutella was awesome as well. She embodied her role perfectly and has a couple of great sequences.
Charlie Day wasn’t too bad either. His annoying persona actually fit his role perfectly and he gave some mild substance to a formulaic character-type, whether it was intentional or not. Bautista was solid as well. He has some comical lines and some adrenaline pumping scenes that leave a nice impression. Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum come in with some charming performances as well. And I think everyone, whether it was a small or large role, were able to leave their mark on the story. Quinto comes in with some subtle laughs and Goldblum, well if we all have a fraction of his charm when he hit his age the world will be a beautiful place.
I enjoyed this film for what it set out to accomplish. It has some splashes of action but doesn’t force it into a story that doesn’t really need a lot of it. It was a crime-thriller focusing on character-dynamics and the scenario of an evening. It was contained, unpredictable at times, and loaded with eccentric personality. It has an edgy Eastern European feel with stylish undertones. But the perfect amount of grime and seediness to capture the backdrop perfectly making it a movie that won’t blow you away but will entertain if your expectations are properly aligned with the intention of the movie.