Messy Potential: Our Review of ‘Hotel Artemis’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 08, 2018
Messy Potential: Our Review of ‘Hotel Artemis’

Even when it’s a little messy, charm can go along way…

While on paper, Hotel Artemis looks like a glossy rehashing of a variety of different films spanning more than a few genres it manages to graduate to A grade pulp thanks to some knowingly smart performances and a very self aware sense of humor throughout the proceedings.

Set in riot-torn, near-future Los Angeles, four men clad in skull masks find themselves in the middle of a failed bank heist. Injured and seeing no other option, their only hope for survival is Hotel Artemisa secret, members-only hospital for criminals run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster).

With a distinct John Carpenter-esque kind of vibe, Hotel Artemis is a visually stylish affair that actually owes more to the film’s casting director then any kind of whip smart writing or filmmaking flourishes because the individual performances inside.

For his first time in the director’s chair on a feature length production, Drew Pearce shows a deft hand and a clear vision as he builds this detailed yet still incredibly compact and efficient world.  There’s nothing terribly original about what he’s putting in front of us, but it’s got enough of a visual pop to keep us engaged with the story and the characters weaving in and out of the Hotel Artemis

Combine that with the score from Cliff Martinez and an end credits symphony from the iconic Father John Misty this film is dripping with style that seem to go hand in hand with the pages and pages of high concept (yet pure pulp dialogue) that we get from the ensemble.

Granted it doesn’t always make sense, but what’s there is just so rich that you get drawn into this world and these characters making for the rare combination of something fascinating that plays around on the razor’s edge of potentially being a little boring and yet kind of crazy all wrapped up into one.  While that does make for narrative that can feel overstuffed (there’s a few too many people in this movie), the pedigree of the ensemble is actually what makes this work so darn well.

After a 5 year hiatus from the big screen, Jodie Foster really tears into the role of ‘The Nurse’ with the kind of fervor that only she can provide.  She’s actively chewing the scenery at every turn in this film in the kind of way that would make any actor worth their salt proud as Pearce seems to have turned her loose really getting a sense of the material and the tone of the performance that would match it.  Joining her are the likes of Sterling K Brown, the more and more underrated Dave Bautista and Jeff Goldblum who all add some genuine highlights to this affair and remind us that a movie that is basically trashy nonsense is OK, as long as you know exactly how to lean into the role.  Pearce really deserves some major credit on this point, because it could have been easy to ham it up or play some of these scenarios that take place entirely the wrong way, but from Foster on down everyone was completely in tune to the tone of the material.

To put it simply, Hotel Artemis is a really good start for a debut filmmaker and when Pearce learns to put just a little more meat on the bones of his narratives (either with greater character depth, or focusing on fewer actual characters), he’ll be able to start making some genuinely special and entertaining things.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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