Thursday, June 07, 2018

“Hotel Artemis”– Movie Review


This week, I caught an advanced screening of the new action-thriller “Hotel Artemis”, starring Jodie Foster and Sterling K. Brown.


When a hospital that caters only to criminals is overwhelmed after a chaotic riot, will they be able to treat their patients?


In 2028, the city of Los Angeles is in a state of anarchy; with its citizens unable to get easy access to water, riots ensue and the city becomes unsafe.  It is at this time that Waikiki (Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) decide to rob a bank; of course, this does not end well for either of them.  While making their getaway, Honolulu is shot and desperately needs immediate care.  Waikiki knows exactly what to do:  he’ll take his brother to the legendary Hotel Artemis where he’ll be well taken care of by The Nurse (Foster). 

The Hotel Artemis is actually something of a misnomer; although it was formerly a hotel in the downtown section of  Los Angeles, it closed long ago.  Eventually, it reopened, in a sense, being rebranded as something of a medical center that caters only to members of the underworld – but not just for any offender.  Instead, it is only available to those who have been previously vetted by the proprietor.  Since Waikiki is known to The Nurse, he and his brother gain admission easily.  Unfortunately, Honolulu is seriously injured and will require extensive care. 

Reaching maximum capacity, The Nurse severely restricts further patient admissions, no matter how severe.  She does have to make one exception, though:  Niagara (Jeff Goldblum) has been hurt and is brought in by his son Crosby (Zachary Quinto).  The Nurse has to make an exception for the wealthy Niagara since he’s the one who financed her operation after her alcoholism caused her to lose her nursing license.  But once it’s been discovered that certain patients have clandestinely entered for the sole purpose of destroying the facility, can The Nurse find a way to keep it open to care for her patients?


Escapist entertainment can be good for the soul, not unlike comfort food.  But like comfort food, no one can exist on a steady diet because it’s unhealthy.  Having it every once in the while as a treat won’t hurt too much.  That’s pretty much how one might characterize “Hotel Artemis”, which often requires suspension of disbelief.  But the question becomes whether or not doing so is a challenge to enjoying the film. In this case, the answer is that while there are some questions that aren’t answered, it shouldn’t interfere with appreciating this motion picture on purely an entertainment level.  Just surrender yourself to the pure escapism and allow the picture to take you on its wild ride.

This ensemble cast contains many familiar names and faces; although a skeptic might understandably presume they’re in it for a payday (which can’t be ruled out entirely), the screenplay is likely what attracted them to the project.  It’s very well written and extremely funny; despite the movie being extremely dark (in both its mood and its lighting), there are a good number of very amusing jokes that take you by surprise at the most unexpected moments.  The humor is well utilized here; when plot points start feeling heavy, a gag is inserted to lighten the emotion in the scene.

The director is Drew Pearce, who also wrote the screenplay and was a co-producer.  As a director, this is his first feature; with previous writing credits that include “Iron Man 3” and “Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation”, the action-thriller genre certainly does seem to be his expertise; it’ll be interesting to see if Pearce continues to direct his own scripts in the future or if he will work on other projects.  As noted, “Hotel Artemis” doesn’t demand very much of its audience -- in fact, that’s almost a pre-requisite. Whether or not Pearce’s future films will be similar is hard to say, but parts of the screenplay suggest he might venture on to something more weighty someday.


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