Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Drew Pearce
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Set in riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles, HOTEL ARTEMIS is an original, high-octane action-thriller starring Jodie Foster as The Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only hospital for criminals. Jodie Foster is joined by an all-star cast that includes Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, and Dave Bautista.
Known for being one of the main screenwriters for Iron Man 3 and Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Drew Pearce makes his feature-length directorial debut with Hotel Artemis. Known for being a writer that can bring an excellent blend of both action and comedy, the real question is whether or not Pearce could combine this with newfound directorial responsibilities. While the aforementioned comedy and action scenes are written and shot effectively, the film suffers from a lack of clear direction, something that I feared from a rookie director like Pearce.
The film follows Waikiki (Brown), a criminal in Los Angeles in the year 2028 where there are riots everyday due to a lack of water supply. After a bank robbery gone wrong, Waikiki and his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyler Henry) go to the Hotel Artemis, a hotel for criminals to get healed by The Nurse (Foster). As the riots continue and different types of people enter the hotel throughout the night, we get to see how the various characters react in high-stress situations. One of the things that works very well about the film is that all of the actors seem to be having a great time in their roles. Foster takes on the role of someone who has to keep everything up and running while also overcoming her own personal demons and she is able to pull of this range of emotion perfectly. Outside of the main female lead, many of the supporting characters at the hotel do well to fill their role in a limited capacity. Charlie Day plays Acapulco, a wealthy arms dealer who believes he is above everyone else in the hotel, but he acts in such a goofy and over-the-top way. It reminded me at times as a cross between his characters from Pacific Rim and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and while it can be distracting and over-the-top at times, Day always does well in a role that is more relaxed and not as serious. Outside of these two, the real star of the movie in my opinion was Dave Bautista. Bautista plays Everest, The Nurse’s right-hand man who helps her with the patients and enforces the rules of the hotel. Bautista has crushed his recent performances as Drax in the various Marvel Cinematic Universe films due to his stern, dry comedic timing. In Hotel Artemis, Bautista continues this performance and adds a strong physical presence throughout the film as well. While the acting was more than serviceable, one of the main highlights is the way the film is shot. Towards the end of the film, there is an action sequence in a hallway with Boutella where the camera follows the action and captures every important action beautifully. Combined with lighting that is bright enough where we can see the action yet dark enough to represent the destitute future that they live in make Hotel Artemis and enjoyable experience.
Where the film falls flat however is the story has no clear direction. At one point it is a heist film, the next it is a sentimental film about a family that has gone through a tragedy. Sometimes it is a dark and gritty film about the struggles of the future, while at other times the film is light and goofy. This is where a more seasoned director could have stepped in and made a clear path for the film to get from start to finish, but Pearce’s lack of directorial experience in a feature-length capacity prevents Hotel Artemis from being elevated into an upper-level film.
Overall, while Hotel Artemis is a fundamentally solid film supporting by great acting and cinematography, a stronger director would have developed upon the ideas more and taken these ideas to the level they could have been. While Pearce’s debut is flawed, it is a solid start to a potentially entertaining career. I am going to keep an eye on Pearce’s career moving forward and I hope he gets his opportunity to prove he has the level of talent that I think he has in the future.
Overall Score: 6/10