Hotel Artemis review
Stories that explore a deep state get extra points in my book. I don't mean a deep state within the government, but rather a deep state within a criminal world. It’s clear that criminals will get their supplies out of the public eye, in places like black markets and the mafia; places where they feel like they can trust. Or let me rephrase…as much trust as one can be offered. While one could acquire an assault riffle or a bomb, there's no guarantee that the one offering them one can be a hundred percent trusted. So for that, criminals have to deal with whatever consequence comes to them. This therefore makes them the most responsible personally.
That's not to say what they do is justified, but they simply cannot walk into a hospital without likely being discovered. I like the idea that criminals would need to go to some sort of a secret hospital. Today's movie has not only accomplished that vision, but has given the place it's own atmosphere that makes it something that feels like it could exist, even if the movie does take place in the future. Let's see how Hotel Artemis can play with that notion with a story.
In 2028, Los Angeles is full of rioters and a police state. A bank is robbed by a set of brothers, but both are injured during the ordeal. They make it to a secret hotel/hospital called the "Hotel Artemis". This place is run by a doctor only known as "The Nurse" (played by Jodie Foster) along with assistance/security Everest (played by Dave Bautista). Both brothers are assigned their rooms, which are also their assigned names, Waikiki (played by Sterling K. Brown) and Honolulu (played by Brian Tyree Henry). They are also given the spiel on the rules which include no fighting and no real names
While there, it's discovered that in addition to taking personal items, Honolulu had also taken a fancy pen that's filled with diamonds worth millions. It's also discovered that the diamonds belonged to "The Wolf King" (Played by Jeff Goldblum) who also happens to own the Hotel Artemis. The race is on for "The Nurse" to ensure that her guests don't engage in illegal transactions and standing her ground as the rioters get closer. Other guests include an arms dealer Acapulco (played by Charlie Day) and a deadly assassin Nice (played by Sofia Boutella).
I have to give Hotel Artemisa lot of credit for creating not just a fascinating hospital/hotel, but a world as well. This is the kind of creativity that I wish major studios were more willing to undertake rather then sticking to all too safe superheroes and nostalgic reboots. Not to mention that with a criminal hospital, this has a lot of potential to tell many stories within the people that come in and out. In fact, Jodie Foster makes for a convincing doctor. I'll also note that they did well with her makeup to make her look a lot older (which they didn't need to do, but her personality makes this work).
This is when I have to break down the main problem; the other characters. Some of them like Charlie Day and Jenny Slate as an officer do well with the material given to them. I just found everyone else to be playing caricatures of roles they've played before. Sterling K. Brown is your typical criminal with a conscience, Sofia Boutella is the same assassin we saw her in Kingsmen, and Jeff Goldblum is just himself. Much of that would be fine if they did something new with their personalities, but it's just stuff their phoning through.
As far as the story is concerned, the movie attempts to do two things; to have more of a character driven visit to the hospital and a standoff at the hospital that doesn't start until close to the third act. I'd rather they would have gone with the first one, as this was where we got to know everyone. Once the villains show up, it felt forced and as an excuse to have a bigger action piece. I can't say I was board, but I did feel like I had seen these kinds of stories before.
I'll give this three high tech medical devices out of five. It's a shame that for an idea this good, it ends up lost in a muddled story that can't decide what kind it wants to be; an action story, a criminal redemption, a social justice, a government commentary, or even exploitation. It'll probably do a lot better on home video, like on Netflix or Saturday afternoon television. Hotel Artemishas a nice look, but lacks to substance to keep itself within pace.