Sunday, 29 July 2018


Starring: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella
Writer: Drew Pearce
Director: Drew Pearce


In the wake of a bank heist that's gone spectacularly wrong, career criminal Brown hauls his injured self and his even more shot-up brother to the titular hotel where a no-nonsense Nurse (Foster) runs an emergency healthcare centre for those who can't get patched up in a normal hospital without being arrested. The rules of the place? No real names, no guns, no cops and no killing the other patients.

So, period of convalescence, slip out without being noticed by the cops, right? Well, as you'd expect, there are complications. For starters, there's a riot going on in the city and it's edging ever closer to the hotel. Brown's brother needs a 3D-printed replacement liver which may or may not take.

There's a beautiful, deadly assassin (Boutella) with whom Brown has a certain amount of history. There's an arms dealer (played by Charlie Day) whose M.O. is to be a monumental pain in the arse. There's a seriously wounded crime boss on his way in and he's going to cause trouble for absolutely everyone, one way or another.

If you saw the trailer for Hotel Artemis before seeing the movie you'd be forgiven for thinking it would be 94 minutes of breathless, blazing action and to be fair there are effective bursts of the slam-bang stuff, a corridor-set scrap between Boutella and multiple assailants being a highlight. However, it's more of a character-led thriller as our various ne-er-do-wells converge, crack wise and criss-cross each other in a plot that conveniently connects them all without feeling overly forced.

Another thing the trailer arguably teases is a lot more of Jeff Goldblum and Zachary Quinto than you end up getting. Their appearances in this amount to little more than extended cameos, which will inevitably leave some viewers feeling a little short-changed. Goldblum is typically great, though, his trademark laconic delivery laced with real menace. Quinto, as Goldblum's hot-headed son, isn't given enough to work with but still manages to make his mark.

Action fans may be disappointed, sure, and the movie certainly wears a few crime movie tropes on its sleeve - for instance, the characters are given code names based upon the room they're staying in, Brown being given the handle "Waikiki" - but its the back and forth between our anti-heroes which keeps things interesting even if you have that faint feeling of having seen all of this before.

Of course, Hotel Artemis' trump card is having Jodie Foster front and centre amidst the escalating chaos and unsurprisingly she commands the film, dishing out spiky banter to all and sundry, including fellow healthcare professional Dave Bautista. The exchanges between them are amusingly grouchy and yet there's real warmth under the surface as they fight to save their patients and ultimately both themselves and the Artemis.

It may be interesting to know why Foster chose this particular movie as her return to the screen after several years away but to be honest I'm not especially interested in the whys and wherefores, it's just good to see her back. Hotel Artemis is far from perfect and there are points during the story where the proceedings seem to be treading water a tad too much but this is Jodie's movie and she reminds us of how terrific a performer she is, playing a troubled, careworn soul who pulls the viewer into her plight and doesn't let go. She's so good that even the odd clunky line is given resonance and heart.

Elsewhere, Brown is engaging as the default "hero" of the piece and it's good to see that the script resists the temptation to turn him into an irresistible force in the story's climax, staying consistent to the character as he relies on his smarts above firepower as he tries to make it out alive. It's Boutella who is by far the most dangerous here, serving up a smart, seductive slayer who could easily kill you with a piece of a broken coffee cup.

The ending manages somehow to be both messy and a little too neat at the same time (you'll have to watch this to see what I mean) as the various plot strands are yanked together to create even more conflict, leading to one potentially fascinating set of "what happened next?" questions which are suddenly ditched as the story throws in one last twist. 

For me, this did make matters slightly less interesting but this final turn is more of an audience pleaser so it would be churlish of me to gripe about it too much. There's also a hint of a particular character's hitherto unknown fate during a brief sequence which cuts into the closing credits.

Hotel Artemis, as a film, is a reflection of its characters, setting itself up as one thing and then revealing something quite different. Anyone expecting a bullet ballet and nothing may leave frustrated but its quirks and accomplished cast won me over. It may not be getting the highest ratings on Trip Advisor but the stay was certainly interesting and it's worth checking in to if only to see Jodie Foster on top form.