It’s no secret that mega-budgeted films are dominating the film industry and the conversation around it at the moment. Thankfully, there’s still always room for a little throwback film that operates as an elevated B-movie. Drew Pearce’s Hotel Artemis operates in that manner with its high-concept story and cheeky performances, even if the finished product is a little uneven. But hey, at least it has a ton of talented people to keep you entertained for a short period of time!
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Drew Pearce
Written By: Drew Pearce
Following a bank heist that goes wrong, a criminal (Brown) and his brother (Henry) are in need of emergency care. Luckily, they belong to the Artemis.
Hotel Artemis is a membership hospital for criminals, and it’s built on a number of rules with no killing other patients ranking at the top of the list. Managed by the Jean Thomas (Foster), a nurse that suffers from agoraphobia, the rules at the Artemis are always obeyed — until now.
With riots reaching a boiling point in this near-future version of Los Angeles, every criminal is on edge. And with the criminal king of L.A. (Goldblum) on his way to the hospital, those tensions are about to explode.
Whether you go on to like Hotel Artemis or not, one thing is very clear: we don’t get enough mid-budget genre films anymore. These days, studios turn this kind of script into either a micro-budget, Blumhouse-style film or a massive, sprawling film that is featured as a tentpole that will fund countless other projects. Hotel Artemis bucks against both these trends, and it’s quite charming.
The film industry is constantly chasing trends. Hell, even smaller distributors such as STX are putting all their eggs into one basket with films like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I must tip my cap to Global Road Entertainment for taking a chance on somewhat of a throwback film. It might not work out, but it’s a nice change of pace nonetheless.
Drew Pearce Creates What the Film Industry Needs More Of
It’s a bit of a cliché to say at this point, but writer/director Drew Pearce creates a lived-in, sneakily expansive world on this moderate budget. Many are comparing Hotel Artemis to John Wick, but that might be more of a credit to John Wick‘s impact as a film as it now clouds the judgement of other films within the same subgenre. Yes, Hotel Artemis has a communal space for criminals to find refuge, but that’s the only glaring similarity.
Hotel Artemis includes a suitably schlocky backdrop of a riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles where everything is simultaneously futuristic and stuck in the past. Technology is melded into the hospital care in the Artemis as livers are 3-D printed into existence, but everyone looks like they just arrived from a 1970’s exploitation film via time machine. Not to mention that neon signs drench the sky in superficial color.
And when these wacky characters finally enter the Artemis, they are named by the suite in which they are staying (all of which are conveniently named after fun tourist locations). Charlie Day’s character is referred to as “Mr. Acapulco” whereas Sterling K. Brown is Mr. Waikiki. If it isn’t apparent by now, Hotel Artemis is devilishly zany.
Jodie Foster and Sofia Boutella are Treasures
That wild setup allows for talented actors such as Jodie Foster to create wonderfully distinct characters with their own quirks.
It’s really nice to see Jodie Foster return to the big screen (this is her first appearance since Elysium back in 2013). She clearly put her time into creating her character for Hotel Artemis. Her character’s small but quick steps as she frantically walks from room to room as a one-person staff are ingrained into my brain. Her rapid speech patterns match her steps as well. Everything about her screams “I’m running around like crazy and I’m in desperate need of sleep.”
Acting opposite her are a bunch of talented people with their own signature eccentricities, but I wanted to highlight one person in particular: Sofia Boutella. Hotel Artemis marks the 1,000th time that Boutella has played the sexy assassin figure in a film. The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind here. She has perfected the role of the sultry, skilled killer as she effortlessly seduces everyone around her with her French accent. She’s in desperate need of material that puts her in a different light as a performer, but I will never grow tired of seeing her kick tail. She’s even responsible for arguably the best sequence in the film.
Hotel Artemis Never Gets Above a Low Boil
Throughout Hotel Artemis, there’s a growing feeling that everything is going to go to Hell at some point both within the Artemis and outside among the townsfolk that are rioting. Even as Charlie Day drops his fourth consecutive expletive in a row, the feeling that anger and violence will eventually overflow is always within the minds of the characters and the viewer. The problem is that Hotel Artemis is never very concerned with adding depth to any of these characters; it’s more concerned with the style and scenario.
As the tension grows, there’s never a growing concern for the characters to match it. They’re essentially colorful chess pieces to move around. Drew Pearce rightfully makes Jodie Foster the emotional core of the film, but her personal struggles are handled with the same grace as Henry Cavill’s mustache removal in Justice League.
What makes everything worse is that when that “boiling over point” finally happens, it leaves a little to be desired. Although I praised Hotel Artemis for its wacky setup, it needed more wackiness in the delineation of its plot.
We need more movies like Hotel Artemis (well, maybe better versions of similar material). It’s nice to see a mid-budget, elevated B-movie that includes talented actors either chewing the scenery or oozing sex appeal. Hotel Artemis is slick, stylish, and a solid amount of fun. You’ll be entertained on a last afternoon is it comes on TV. Just don’t expect this film to offer any sort of depth as it gets lost in the style and rules of its world.
Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on Hotel Artemis? Comment down below!
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