Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis
Hotel Artemis
Directed by Drew Pearce
Starring Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Dave Bautista, Jodie Foster, Jenny Slate, Charlie Day, Kenneth Choi, Zachary Quinto and Brian Tyree Henry
In UK Cinemas July 20th, 2018

by Lewis Church

Hotel Artemis is the kind of film that is very hard to get made right now – a mid to low-budget plot and character driven piece, one that limits its word-building to hints and off-hand remarks. It has no sequel potential and no major set-pieces, and its marquee names (great as they are) only work as part of the wider ensemble cast. Its first-time director Drew Pearce has turned out an original narrative, portrayed by a cast clearly having a whale of a time flexing their character muscles as scenery is chewed and one-liners are delivered with aplomb. It’s never less than entertaining, even if its story of the titular criminal hospital occasionally veers into the realm of the predictable plot twist.

Hotel Artemis is set in a near future Los Angeles, one that undoubtedly owes a debt to Blade Runner in its snatches of neon lit skies swarming with Uber helicopters, but (perhaps less to its credit) also to less iconic cinematographic material like The Purge. Water is privatised and so riots crash over downtown, where Jodie Foster’s ‘Nurse’ and her orderly ‘Everest’ (Dave Bautista) treat the highest-profile criminal victims of capers gone wrong. Taking place almost entirely within the bottle setting of the hotel, the various occupants of the suites scheme, argue and fight, building to a showdown that was always going to crack the place open. Whilst the political critique implicit in the 2028 it portrays is perhaps less subtle than it thinks it is, brief references to the Mexican border as a ‘wall’ intriguingly position the film in relation to the fallout of our own dystopian present.

Foster is the centre of the tightly focused script, a believable emotional pivot around which the zaniness spins. World-weary and prematurely aged, drinking her way through her emotional pain, Foster is inherently believable as the calm healthcare professional who has seen it all before and will do again. Her storyline is threaded through those of her patients, whether Sterling K. Brown’s loyal thief ‘Sherman’ or Jeff Goldblum’s Malibu-flavoured louche underworld kingpin. Enjoyment of the film may be tied to your level of tolerance for these reskinned clichés, but if that can be overlooked then sit back and enjoy. Goldblum is Goldblum, weird and compelling, whilst Bautista continues his run of being sincerely endearing in roles that subvert the usual trajectory of the wrestler-turned-actor. There’s an odious arms dealer, a feckless dead-weight brother and toadish young heir, a do-good cop and a French femme fatale. All in good fun and refreshingly self-contained, there are far worse ways to spend time at the cinema.



 

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