Movie Review – ‘Hotel Artemis’

This tech-noir can't escape a rushed second half despite a great cast.

Review by J.T. Johnson


DIRECTOR: Drew Pearce
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Chung Chung-hoon
WRITER: Drew Pearce
MUSIC: Cliff Martinez

“Hotel Artemis” is one of those films where I’m not mad at it, but I am pretty disappointed. On one hand, it’s a stylish film with a techno-noir look that I found appealing despite its abysmal setting. The performances are also good, featuring a cast that is at the top of their game.

“Artemis” is set in a near dystopian future (2028) where several riots have broken out in Los Angeles due to a company that has finally found a way to privatize drinking water in the country. While these riots are going on, a team of bank robbers are trying to make their getaway, but unfortunately they are intercepted by police and one of them is badly wounded. His brother takes him to a secret hospital set up in an old hotel called Hotel Artemis.

The Nurse (Jodie Foster) takes them in and refers to them by their room names. The lead robber is called Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and while his brother Honolulu is healing up, he tries to calm down and rest while meeting other guests such as Nice (Sofia Boutella) and Acapulco (Charlie Day). Meanwhile, the Nurse is having a rough night due to the fact that the Wolf King, a criminal kingpin that pretty much owns Los Angeles, is wounded and heading their way.

As mentioned above, the movie looks good. The rundown hotel still carries quite a bit of its Art Deco style, helping give the movie its film noir mood. The costumes are also something out of the past, such as Boutella’s red femme fatale dress, and this also adds to the flick’s gritty visual layers.

The second thing to note is the amazing cast. Foster reminds us about why she is one of the best actors ever and her emotional story is almost enough to make me recommend the film. Sadly, her and the rest of the cast’s stories are interrupted by one key element… the film’s own script.

Just when you think you are about to get to know these people, the filmmakers decide that they want the film to go in another direction that is more action-driven. This means that any character development that was happening is quickly sidelined. With a meager 94 minute runtime, writer and director Drew Pearce has no time to fix the broken second half of his own film.

The movie almost has something to say beyond its shoddy social commentary that’s featured near the beginning of the film. The bad news is that “Hotel Artemis” gets lost about halfway through and never quite recovers. This is a shame considering strong visual style and the great cast.

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