Movie Review: 'Hotel Artemis'

Messy 'Hotel Artemis' Is Stylish Yet Sloppy

Hotel Artemis stars Jodie Foster as Nurse and Dave Bautista as Orderly. These are code names as the Hotel Artemis is not quite a hotel but not exactly a hospital either. The year is 2028 and Los Angeles has devolved into chaos. The economy is collapsing and crime has become the the city's top employer. Among this chaos the Hotel Artemis was born as a place of myth where criminals with a membership can get no questions asked treatment for a variety of injuries.

Among the members are Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (Bryan Tyree Henry) who arrive at the Artemis in bad shape. Waikiki, again these are code names, if that wasn't clear, has most scratches and bruises but his brother, Honolulu has been gut shot and is clinging to life. Luckily the two have maintained their membership at the Artemis which happens to have state of the art medical facilities including a 3D printer that makes organs.

Waikiki and Honolulu were shot following a bank robbery during which Honolulu made the mistake of stealing a pen belonging to L.A's top crime boss, The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum). No surprise that he wants it back as it contains not ink but a small vault valued over 17 million dollars. However, The Wolf King is on his way to the Artemis not to retrieve his lost money but coincidentalky, he's been shot by another Artemis denizen named Nice (Sophia Boutella) and needs treatment.

Added to these combustible elements is Charlie Day as Acapulco. Day is in the movie mostly to be colorful and do colorful Charlie Day schtick. This is the biggest problem with Hotel Artemis is that everyone seems to be on hand solely for some kind of schtick and not necessarily because the plot draws everyone together in a believable, cohesive fashion. Everyone in Hotel Artemis appears to be in business for themselves and the movie struggles to contain them.

Writer-Director Drew Pearce, in his first feature film, has a number of ideas but they seem to come from entirely different movies. There is the movie where Foster is a damaged former drug addict turned Nurse to the criminal underworld. There is the movie where Dave Bautista is doing a human variation on his Guardians of the Galaxy persona. There is the bank robbery movie with Sterling K. Brown and there are Charlie Day and Sophia Boutella randomly bouncing between the various other movies going on.

The lack of cohesion is distracting and the bits of business that each actor brings to their character do little to further the story of Hotel Artemis. There are strands of plot but nothing seems to unite them. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a massive riot and yet the riot barely effects the plot. All of the characters are destined to meet at the Artemis but it's so random that Goldblum's Wolf King arrives at the Hotel unaware that Waikiki and Honolulu are there or have stolen his pen.

Charlie Day has no connection to any of the plots and appears to exist solely for one plot point and a whole lot of yelling. Day brings manic energy to his performance and if you like his brand of screeching you might enjoy his performance. However, even the most apologetic of critics will have a hard time explaining why the character is necessary to this story. The plot point he exists for is a neat idea but it doesn't justify the character.

I have not yet mentioned characters played by Jenny Slate and Zachary Quinto who also provide color but little else to the story. Slate plays a cop with a connection to Nurse's past that pays off in providing Nurse's back story and motivation but it's a character any actress could have played and does little to make use of Slate's talents. Quinto meanwhile is on hand to screech and whine in supposedly hilarious fashion before he's dispatched rather ignominiously. Is there an actor more allergic to fame than Zachary Quinto?

Hotel Artemis is a stylish but forgettable mess. Violent in a fun kind of way but mostly pointless, Hotel Artemis is a collection of clever ideas in search of a cohesive plot. The film meanders pointlessly to a bizarre conclusion that provides little closure to what little story there is. Drew Pearce seems like a talented filmmaker with potential. He directs with style and writes with color but he doesn't have a central thesis, he doesn't seem to understand how to fit his colorful pieces together and thus Hotel Artemis is less than the sum of its colorful parts. 

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Movie Review: 'Hotel Artemis'
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