It’s the year 2028 and there’s a riot going down in LA thanks to big business shutting off public water supply. We meet Sharman (Sterling K. Brown) in the middle of a bank heist with his brother. With time ticking away, they make off with what they can, but him and his brother end up injured in the process.
And so, they head to Hotel Artemis; a members-only hotel with select rooms (named after cities), where criminals go for the very best healthcare and medical help when they’ve injured during a job – and need some discretion.
They’re stitched up and put back together by Nurse, aka. Jodie Foster, who is aged up and classy as ever. She has help from an orderly named Everest, played by Dave Bautista, who is on as menacing yet dry-witted form as ever, as we’ve seen from the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
The whole film takes place over one night – ‘just another Wednesday’ – but a particularly busy one, with patients already checked in but a good few more to come. As the riots outside create more chaos, the havoc bleeds into the Artemis. Will anyone get out alive?
In a time of franchises and sequels and prequel-sequels and spin offs, it feels refreshing to see a near-future sci-fi world so cleanly delivered to us, wrapped up nice and neatly in a 2 hour runtime. Hotel Artemis is contained, claustrophobic within the dingy hotel walls, with barely any excess or self-indulgence.
It is Drew Pearce‘s first feature film as director, after he has worked on writing for Iron Man 3 amongst others – and this is certainly a strong debut. It could easily have been a fairly run of the mill action film but it feels very much directed and stylish. Pearce manages to draw depth from the characters despite them all having to share the screentime, and there’s some stunning visuals using the neon lights of the Artemis sign, with the burning city as backdrop.
Sterling K Brown is brilliant. He deserves more roles like this; to be the leading man. He has a mantra that repeats throughout the film – ‘we work with what we have, not what we hoped for’ – which is just one of the movie’s many memorable lines. Brown is strong, understated and conveys a strong sense of history in his moments with Nice, played by Sofia Boutella.
Speaking of Sofia – she’s playing to type here to an extent (aka. the beautiful but deadly assassin), but given much more to do in the role than we’ve ever seen before, and that’s great, because she can handle it. As entertaining as it is to see her be a badass killer, high kicking in the most seductive of red dresses (though with her hair tied up and flat boots on, thankfully) it’s also satisfying to see her having a connection with another patient, and the strength she has when draw into action – ‘don’t cross my fucking line”.
From the supporting cast, we see Charlie Day and Jenny Slate break from comedic type, Zachary Quinto is at once completely different and yet exactly the same as we’ve seen him before, and Jeff Goldblum is, well, Jeff Goldblum.
Jodie Foster is, quite rightly, the star of the show. She fully embodies the Nurse character – anxious but stubborn, warm and yet assertive, shuffling along the corridors like a little old lady but calling the shots like a military leader. We’re exposed to more of her backstory than perhaps we need to be, but it’s a joy to see Foster back in front of the camera, giving the kind of performance only she can.
The world Hotel Artemis sits in feels very convincing in that it’s what ours could look like really soon – there’s gadgets, definitely, but feasible ones. Sofia Boutella uses an ‘oculink’ to connect directly with clients and let them see what she sees, there’s use of holograms, scalpels made of lasers rather than metal, and organ transplants using a 3D printer.
It’s really interesting to have heroes in this movie, and people you’re rooting for, when literally everyone on screen is a stone cold criminal; it creates a level playing field where you know that technically, all the characters are bad guys. What they do throughout the film determines whether they’re the good kind of bad guys.
The final fight scenes are great, and work well as the climax of the movie. There’s not much violence besides them throughout, which you might expect more of giving the hotel clientele – but of course, that would be against the rules. The ending could have been bigger and better overall (and not fallen foul to some cliche tropes), but it’s super satisfying all the same.
Hotel Artemis is a thoroughly entertaining ride set in a thoroughly fascinating underworld – an almost perfect sci-fi package that will happily feed your cravings for some slick action and and even slicker screenplay. 4 stars!