Verdict: A unique aesthetic with an impressive guest list.
Jodie Foster returns to the big screen after five years with first-time director Drew Pearce’s sci-fi thriller, Hotel Artemis. The film also features an ensemble of A-grade actors including Jeff Goldblum, Sterling K. Brown, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, and Jenny Slate. This jam-packed cast, coupled with an unusual take on the sci-fi dystopian action genre, has us interested in checking into Hotel Artemis.
What’s Hotel Artemis About:
It’s 2028 and Los Angeles is in the midst of one of the biggest riots in its recent history. Two long-time criminals and brothers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) decide to take advantage of the chaos and rob a high-profile bank. However, things don’t go as planned and they end up getting badly injured in the crossfire. With the cops on their lookout, they’re left with just one place to go – Hotel Artemis.
This is a ‘members-only’ covert hospital for criminals with a strict set of rules. It is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) with Everest (Dave Bautista) as her right-hand man. Before the brothers arrive, the Nurse already has plenty of other guests to deal with including a deadly French assassin (Sofia Boutella) and an aggressive arms dealer (Charlie Day). To make matters worse, a woman from her past (Jenny Slate) shows up severely wounded. While she contemplates breaking the strict hotel rules to take her in, there’s a phone call warning that the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) – the crime boss who essentially runs LA and owns the hotel – is on his way to pay her a visit. From the looks of it, it’s going to be a very busy night at the Artemis after all.
Set in the year 2028, Hotel Artemis goes straight to developing its characters without too much focus on explaining the futuristic underworld that it is set in. We are shown just enough to serve the story so that we can focus on the characters and the dilemmas that they are facing. We see them flesh out their relationships and make difficult choices over the course of the film before the drama really ramps up in the final act.
But what really makes this film is its intensive attention to style and aesthetic. Writer-director Drew Pearce puts a lot of care in the construction of the atmosphere through distinctive sets paired with unique visuals. The perfect way to explain the film’s aesthetic is through the design of the hotel itself. It is covered in old and fading wallpaper that looks like it’s right out of the ’90s. But inside these grim walls, we find tons of high-concept technology, including a 3D printer for human organs and pills with nano-bots that regenerate cells for you.
Add a dystopian dilemma with an eclectic mix of bold characters played by extremely talented actors to this setting, and you’ve got yourself an interesting sci-fi noir film. All in all, the beauty of Hotel Artemis is that it gives us something original to watch in the midst of genre cliches, sequels, and remakes.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Hotel Artemis takes a deep dive into an escalating riot in 2028 Los Angeles with no context of what led up to that point. As the film moves along, we still don’t get to know the background. It seems like a lot of potential is lost in this choice to be ambiguous. Only the drama and action carries us to the rip-roaring finale.
Why You Should Watch:
With this film, Drew Pearce puts forth a notable attempt at giving us something utterly different from what we’re seeing in theatres today. So if you want to experience a refreshing cinematic take, you need to book your tickets for Hotel Artemis.