Hotel Artemis is an ensemble crime movie written and directed by Drew Pearce, and it’s a fun – albeit a little overstuffed – time at the theater.
In the near future, on the night of the worst riot in LA history, a Nurse runs a secret hospital for criminals. What starts as just another Wednesday at the Artemis turns into something much worse.
The ensemble cast carries this film. Jodie Foster stars as the Nurse, and her dynamic with Dave Bautista’s Everest the orderly repeatedly makes for the best scenes. Bautista arguably steals the whole show as the giant badass with a good heart – hopefully we see more of him in these roles. Sterling K. Brown, meanwhile, is the “lead” criminal out of the residents, and for good reason. He gives the strongest performance for the most fleshed out character, and is probably the film’s emotional core alongside the Nurse.
Artemis has a pretty simple premise – bad guys collide – and it’s a lot of fun, but it does feel like it could have been more. Pearce introduces concepts and characters that seem like they’re going to add a layer of depth and social commentary to the story, but ultimately go nowhere. One character in particular is introduced, and it seems like she’s going to lead to an explosive confrontation…and then she’s gone. She’s only there to develop another character’s backstory for an emotional payoff later, and it feels like a wasted opportunity.
Which leads to the film’s other issue. It tries to go for the emotional gut punch, and it just doesn’t land. Maybe it’s because there’s a lot going on with all of the different characters, but nothing seems to get developed enough for us to get too emotionally invested. Everything’s spread thin to give time to each character, and in a 90 minute movie, that can hurt.
The only exception is with the Nurse and Everest. We spend the most time with them and get to see the different sides of their relationship, instead of just being told about them like with other characters. Plus, there’s the aforementioned chemistry between Foster and Bautista. So, by the time the movie’s end comes, their story has the strongest emotional payoff.
(Admittedly, Sterling K. Brown’s story also has an emotional payoff, but it comes strictly from his performance and ability to evoke emotion rather than the script.)
But, although the plot’s a little shallow, the tension between the criminals makes for some thrills and keeps the audience wanting to see what’s going to happen next. It’s never boring, that’s for sure.
Don’t think twice – Hotel Artemis is a lot of fun, complete with interesting characters played by very competent actors, and some kick-ass action sequences. You don’t need to rush to your theater to see it opening night, but it’s definitely worth catching if you have the time.