Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hotel Artemis - Review

Every once and a while a film comes along that seemingly sprung up from nowhere. Hotel Artemis just so happens to be one of those films. With little marketing until the past week or two, the film has jumped into theaters with a little bit of buzz and a really good cast. But those two things alone do not make a good movie, and unfortunately, none of the other parts of Hotel Artemis do either.

As rioting rocks Los Angeles in the year 2028, disgruntled thieves make their way to Hotel Artemis -- a 13-story, members-only hospital for criminals. It's operated by the Nurse (Jodie Foster), a no-nonsense, high-tech healer who already has her hands full with a French assassin (Sofia Boutella), an arms dealer (Charlie Day) and an injured cop (Jenny Slate). As the violence of the night continues, the Nurse must decide whether to break her own rules and confront what she's worked so hard to avoid.

Ignoring the obvious connections to ideas presented in John Wick of a rules driver hotel for criminals, Hotel Artemis attempts to create something original, with its own visual cues and ideas that, in the end, are very hit or miss. On the story side of things, however, everything is miss. Equal parts scattered and woefully thin, the film opts for various side plots that are either incredible pointless or underdeveloped rather than focusing on the fascinating premise of the hotel itself. Not to mention, everything about Hotel Artemis feels crammed into the short runtime. The runtime itself is not the issue, but trying fit so much in makes the whole film feel hectic in a way.

There is perhaps go greater film crime than squandering a talented cast with subpar material and dreadful dialogue, both of which Hotel Artemis possesses in spades. Perhaps worst of all is wasting Jodie Foster. In her first on screen role in about five years, Foster is handed a wholly bland character that she manages to elevate with her acting abilities and delivery of terrible dialogue. Sterling K. Brown, playing the undefined criminal Waikiki, gets even less to do with his character. When handed minimal backstory or even motivation, Brown is able to bring gravitas to it that others may not have been able to. Finally, of the noteworthy performances, Boutella perhaps gets the most praise here. While the actress may slowly be falling into being typecast into the femme fatale-esque character, at least in this film she is able to put her abilities to play menacing and powerful to good use, however briefly that is.

With no clear objective or goal beyond the survival of this collection of criminals, any narrative objective the film has is quickly forgotten for shoddy action scenes that fail to even create a fun set piece. Trapped in between wanting to be a campy B-movie and a gritty action film, Hotel Artemis cannot put anything worthwhile together into something coherent. By far the most interesting aspect of the film is the Hotel Artemis itself, and yet the details of this haven for criminals are left behind in lieu of boring characters and fairly unexciting action. 

Overall, Hotel Artemis deserves some praise for striving for something different in Summer season of sequels, reboots, and prequels, even if some ideas are similar to those in John Wick. But the parts cannot come together to form something that’s even remotely worthwhile. With a slew of hollow characters, a handful of dull action scenes, and a narrative that ultimately leads to nowhere, the film will likely be forgotten within the week as better films dominate the headlines and box office. 

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