Directed by: Drew Pearce
Premise: Set in the near future, a nurse and her orderly (Jodie Foster and Dave Bautista) run an underground medical facility that caters to criminals. Things get complicated when several clients with converging interests are admitted to the hospital.
What Works: Hotel Artemis is a lean and stylish piece of fantasy moviemaking. Although this is an original work, Hotel Artemis is reminiscent of graphic novel adaptations like Sin City and 300. The imagery has a similar style and the filmmakers use light and color in extreme and creative ways. The picture has a great look. The production design includes technology that is just advanced enough to be plausible and the rooms and hallways of the medical facility have a credible look and a visual texture that pops off the screen. Hotel Artemis is also witty and fun. There is a great deal of humor to this movie that offsets the more serious happenings in the medical facility. Much of that humor comes from Dave Bautista who is cast as the orderly and Bautista employs the deadpan sense of humor that he put to such good use in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. The other central characters of Hotel Artemis are interesting as well including a bank robber played by Sterling K. Brown and the head nurse played by Jodie Foster. Brown’s character feels some responsibility for his brother, who was seriously wounded in a botched bank robbery, and his guilt makes him empathetic. Foster’s character is a heath care professional whose career went sideways after the death of her son and she is haunted by her failures in a way that’s very sympathetic. These human touches give Hotel Artemis a flawed organic center that’s packaged in the rest of the movie’s style and fantasy.
What Doesn’t: Hotel Artemis suffers from rushed pacing. The movie feels like the season finale of a television show in which conflicts and character relationships that are long established finally pay off. In that respect, Hotel Artemis has an unusual flaw. So many of today’s Hollywood event films are too long but Hotel Artemis is too short. The story needs breathing room; the film assembles a group of conflicting characters in a confined space but it doesn’t let the tension build. There’s little mystery to these people. Most everyone is who they initially appear to be and the movie doesn’t give them opportunities for complexity. Several dramatic subplots are concluded too easily or too suddenly and the climaxes lack dramatic impact. There are also quite a few coincidences not the least of which being so many characters with so much shared baggage arriving in the same place on the same night.
Bottom Line: Hotel Artemis is no masterpiece but it is a fun and stylish little film. The movie has a terrific look and a witty sense of humor. It might have made a better television show than a feature film but it mostly succeeds on its own terms and could become a cult classic.
Episode: #704 (June 24, 2018)