Hotel Artemis Review: A fairly novel spin to a familiar premise
One of the better dystopian films of the recent past that remains strong for the first half but tapers away after the halfway point
There are many dystopian/post-apocalyptic films that come and go. Very few are remembered. Those that fade way are either downright ridiculous or borrow too heavily from their predecessors. The premise of Hotel Artemis is an intriguing one. In a near-future Los Angeles besieged by large-scale rioting and civil war, there is a place that provides a safe haven for dangerous crooks, criminals, and the highly influential. And though it markets itself as a hotel, it is, in effect, a maximum-security hi-tech hospital-like structure that has limited access to the people beyond its walls. Unlike a prison, Hotel Artemis concerns itself with keeping people out. Access is restricted to only a handful of members. Membership, as it appears, is only open to the dodgy yet elite individual.
Director: Drew Pearce
Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Dave Bautista
This temporarily safe refuge boasts of good décor and a small line of suites named after famous locales. Members are referred to by the names of their suites and are attended to by the hotel’s two guardians – The Nurse and Everest. Once inside, rules of the house must be followed at all costs. The Nurse is a capable medical professional who drowns her anxieties about the mayhem outside with copious amounts of pills and alcohol. She has been managing Artemis for the pass twenty-two years, and has rarely stepped onto the street during that time. Everest is her giant-like assistant who doubles as the establishment’s bouncer.
When a robbery gets botched, three men head to Hotel Artemis, but only two (a pair of brothers) are permitted entry due to their membership. The duo is given their suites - Waikiki and Honolulu. The latter has been badly injured by a rain of bullets and needs immediate medical attention. As Waikiki’s brother gets treated by The Nurse, he bumps into Nice – an old acquaintance and lethal assassin who works for wealthy clients. The last guest is Acapulco – an entitled, rich, and brattish man who has a penchant for running his mouth off.
In between dealing with old and difficult patrons and sewing up battered new ones, The Nurse attempts to come to terms with visions of a young boy being washed up on a beach. As the tense moments come to pass between the hotel’s unique guests, she is left with two very important decisions that could alter the course of her life: the first, is to allow someone from her past to enter the premises; and the second, is to tend to The Wolf King of LA (who happens to also be the owner of the joint).
Within its dystopian future setting, Hotel Artemis brings a more novel idea to screen. It adds an even mixture of intrigue and action to an already suspenseful storyline. The oddball characters have arcs interesting enough for the audience to want to know more about them. The film remains strong for the first half but tapers away after the halfway point, choosing to let unbridled action sequences replace suspense and tension-building.
Jodie Foster’s role as part-manager, part-healer, and part-peacekeeper of a joint for the most outrageous criminals, may not rank as one of her best, but she does rather well under the circumstances (keeping in mind the limitations of such a story). To see The Nurse plug in her music in order to blot out the anxieties of the bad outer world, forms one of Hotel Artemis’s better moments. This is one of those films that is slightly above average due to the following reasons: a fairly novel spin to a familiar premise; a good build-up of tension and intrigue; and fairly believable performances. Being exposed to several mediocre post-apocalyptic films of the past, I can safely say that this has been one of the more watchable ones.