Saturday, January 12, 2019

Movie Reviews: Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis
directed by Drew Pearce
This was Pearce's director's debut on an American film. However, he's no rookie, having worked in the British market and also having written for large scale American films before. Perhaps that is why he attracted such a big name cast to this B-movie. 

It's not that the cast doesn't give good performances or convince you of their character's veracity. It's just that their skills are such that you expect greater emotions or more compelling stories than this movie offers. Who knows why any of the actors chose this film. Salary? Writing? Favors owed? Not too busy? Chance to do something different? Whatever their reasons may have been I didn't think it made for a super interesting film experience. The actors were good. The storyline was unoriginal. That's okay. Some people have argued there are few, if any, truly original storylines

Someone is put under duress. Someone either changes or does not as a result of that pressure. If they do change they gain wisdom from the experience and rise to a higher level. If they don't change they die. Or they stay where they were before as a living martyr. The trick is to make the viewer identify with the protagonist(s) and/or sympathize with them. In the John Wick movies the world's best hitmen (and hit women) occasionally rest, recuperate, and entertain themselves at the Continental Hotel locations. The Continental management doesn't tolerate any violence at its hotels. Hotel Artemis examines what operating such a sanctuary might look like from the inside.

A few years in the future both gang and political violence have skyrocketed. In a seedy part of Los Angeles, Jean Thomas aka The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs a two person staffed health clinic/hospital that only caters to criminals. If you aren't a hotel member then Jean won't let you inside. She's a stickler for the rules. Rules are what give her life meaning and allow her to continue functioning in some very challenging situations.

Although Jean may be a diminutive aged woman, as several characters frequently remind her, she has the strength of will and attitude to dominate others by voice alone. When that doesn't work she relies on her co-worker/employee Everest (Dave Bautista), who is equally dedicated to helping others and breaking the heads of anyone who disrespects him or the Nurse. As Jean helpfully points out Everest is just about as big as the mountain after which he's nicknamed.

When a bank robbery goes badly wrong, bank robber Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) takes his critically wounded baby brother Lev (Brian Tyree Henry) and another gang member to Hotel Artemis. However only two people in this trio actually have Artemis memberships. A high strung arms dealer (Charlie Day) and a sultry French assassin (Sofia Boutella) are already staying at the Artemis. One of them has some history with Sherman.  Further complicating The Nurse's night is the fact that Los Angeles' most dangerous and powerful gangster, the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) has been wounded and is on his way to the Artemis.  

The Wolf King will demand and expect no less than immediate five star attention, no matter who got there first or was more seriously wounded. The Wolf King's men, led by his son, (Zachary Quinto) don't like the setup. They want to ensure that no one else can get into the Artemis until their boss is healed. 

The Nurse will have to balance all of these medical needs, her Hippocratic oath, her commitment to her rules, her own mental and emotional issues, and a blast from the past that throws everything into chaos. This might have been a better movie if it had shrunk down the cast a bit. I found Day to be annoying and a bit unrealistic but I usually find him annoying in most of his roles. The Sherman-Lev relationship was undeveloped. 

Foster was better than this film, though it did have some interesting yet typical things to say about duty, parenthood, and non-violence. In different yet complementary ways this film would have been much more compelling if either Foster or Brown's characters were given more screen time. This is not a must-see by any means, but neither is it a must miss. Meh.
blog comments powered by Disqus