Frances Winston reviews Hotel Artemis, a film about a future dystopian Los Angeles
Directed by: Drew Pearce – Starring: Jodie Foster, Sterling K Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella
So many movies have been set in LA in a dystopian future at this stage, that you have to wonder if filmmakers are telegraphing some terrible fate for the sunshine state.
This movie, set in 2028, sees LA overrun with people protesting the privatisation of water, which has made it unaffordable to the average person – something that will no doubt resonate with Irish audiences after the Irish Water furore.
These riots are taken to the extreme though, and allow the criminal underbelly to do their worst, since they are distracting law enforcement officials.
One such crew decide to break into a bank vault, but when they can’t get into it, they steal the hostages’ property instead, with one of them getting more than he bargained for when he steals the diamonds of the biggest gangster in LA, and gets shot in the process.
This requires his brother, Sherman (Brown) to seek medical attention for him at the Hotel Artemis of the title – an underground hospital for criminals, run by Jean ‘The Nurse’ Thomas (Foster). She has a shady backstory, having turned to alcohol and lost her licence, following the death of her son, and has been running the service for the past 22 years. So with a motley crew locked inside the hotel, an assassin out to get one of the ‘guests’, and the city in lockdown, the scene is set for a long night.
Hotel Artemis has an extremely interesting premise, and a fantastic cast. Jodie Foster ages dramatically to play the world-weary Jean (and gives an amazing performance) and Brown is suitably stoic as the older brother, who is trying to go straight but has to support his wayward sibling. Boutella is something of a weak link – she looks great and is fantastic in the action-scenes, but beyond that she Can. Not. Act. Even former wrestler, Dave Bautista, acts her off the screen. And there is one particularly clunky edit involving her, that even those who don’t understand the editing process won’t be able to miss.
But then again Hotel Artemis isn’t high art – it is a slice of futuristic violence, which usually proves a winning recipe with audiences. There are some fabulously choreographed fight-scenes that should satisfy even the most diehard fan of the genre.
Visually, Hotel Artemis is very dark. Literally very dark – it is difficult to see what is going on at times. I can understand why Pearce made this choice, but bringing up the light just a smidge would have greatly enhanced the viewing experience.
This almost plays like a movie adaptation of a graphic novel (but it’s not). Hotel Artemis had the potential to be a brilliant piece of futuristic action, but instead it falls a bit flat, despite displaying some moments of fabulous wit and knowingness.
I was excited about Hotel Artemis after seeing the trailer, but that really is the best thing about it. It’s not dreadful, but it won’t leave you excited about what you’ve just seen either.
In Cinemas July 20th! See trailer below: