By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Screenwriter Drew Pearce makes his directorial debut with a film that can boast decent world building, a gorgeously dank art design, amusing comedy, and bludgeoning violence. Pearce has made a taut thriller that looks great and entertains, but is somewhat lacking in character development. All-in-all, Pearce shows some proficiency as a director, but doesn’t exactly hit it out of the park on his first try.
The year is 2028 and the world is in turmoil. Most of the resources are controlled heavily by the wealthy and powerful, while the impoverished have to fight back to survive. At the beginning of the film, things have come to a head, and a major riot in Los Angeles engulfs the city. While the outside world is burning, the Hotel Artemis remains a quiet sanctuary for the criminally inclined. This hotel actually serves as a hospital for any criminals with a membership needing mending and medical treatment. Nurse Jean Thomas (Jodie Foster) and her orderly Everest (Dave Bautista) run the facility, and on one particularly busy night several conflicts of criminal interest disrupt the otherwise peaceful establishment.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but think that the movie feels a tad rushed and incomplete. The characters are introduced in a speedy fashion, and enough information is given about them. Still, the lack of character development in regards to the criminals doesn’t do much to raise the stakes of the story. The Jean Thomas character gets the best treatment of movie, making her an intriguing and compelling character. Jodie Foster’s fun, yet poignant portrayal really sells it though.
The film also feature fine performances by Sofia Boutelia who portrays an assassin-for-hire, Charlie Day who stars as an amusingly sleazy criminal, and Jenny Slate who portrays an honest cop. Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry offer great turns as two brothers healing after a job goes terribly wrong. Jeff Goldblum gives a delightfully wicked performance as crime boss The Wolf King and Zachary Quinto is hilarious as his bratty son Crosby.
There really isn’t much more I can say about this entertaining, but limited serving of pulpy crime cinema. Hotel Artemis is a fun movie, but not one that must be viewed theatrically. I am, nevertheless, intrigued with Drew Pearce’s skills as a director and believe that with a stronger script, the filmmaker could really soar. Still, this first movie is not at all a bad place to start, and I certainly look forward to what he does next.