Hotel Artemis is a palate-cleansing movie that’s much needed after having so many big budget super hero and sci fi movies dominating the theaters these past few months. It’s a tightly-woven action noir movie with an ensemble cast that generates the feeling of what a Quentin Tarantino movie would be if there wasn’t so much exposition. The film wastes little time getting to the point of what’s going on and is mercifully not too predictable.
Set 10 years in the future, the movie revolves around the titular hotel which only serves denizens of the underworld, but only if you have the means to get in. Having just money won’t do it, you have to be a member and you must follow the rules. In the backdrop of it all, chaos reigns as Los Angeles is in the throes of riots, as a company called Clear Water has forced residents to buy water. Surprisingly, the movie revolves around the Nurse as played by Jodie Foster.
As the movie progresses we learn much about her character and how she came to run the hotel. On an eventful night, a bunch of strangers end up at the hotel and not quite by accident. Charlie Day, who has a few scene stealing moments, is an arms dealer who is there after a particularly bad facial injury. Sofia Boutella plays an assassin after a botched job, and then there is Sterling K. Brown who is there with his brother after a bank job gone wrong; as well as Dave Bautista who is the orderly making sure that everything stays running. Also, Jenny Slate appears as a police officer who has a hand in the telling of this story as well.
During the course of the movie, The Wolf King and his son (played by Jeff Goldblum and Zachary Quinto) are on their way to the hotel, which sets events in motion as a few of the other characters will either have to deal with him or stay out his way. Both paths will have repercussions.
Even though the first act feels like a bit of a slow burn, everything beyond the first half hour feels brisk and well-paced. Drew Pierce’s directing allows conversations to play out and bonds to form. There is a lot of dry wit and humor that comes about with tension building under the surface while waiting for the final crescendo.
If there were any issues with the movie, it’s probably the fact that while we find out so much about the Nurse, very little is done in developing the other characters; particularly Brown’s and Boutella’s. Even though they are technically bad people, you want to have some connection with them. On the other hand, doing that does leave audiences to interpret the other characters’ pasts, especially since a few actually have an impact on the present. All in all, once the movie moves into its final act, it does turn into a wild ride with a flurry of calculated movement that is not easily predictable.
To note, the final fight scenes are well choreographed and surprisingly, Boutella delivers well in a tightly enclosed area; her breakdancing skills served well here.
Hotel Artemis is easily a sleeper movie that many will pass up in favor of some of the big budget offerings coming about. If you are looking for something off the beaten path that is reminiscent of Smoking Aces or Lucky Number Slevin, this may be a movie for you.
4 L.A. Riots out of 5