This film seemed to come out of nowhere. I hadn’t heard of the film, then a few months ago the trailer suddenly dropped, and it looked like a lot of fun. A good, silly action film focused on a hospital for criminals, kind of like a version of The Continental from the John Wick series. I was really looking forward to this, hoping it would be a fun action film. Sadly, this was a massive disappointment.
The film takes place in Los Angeles in 2028 and focuses on a hotel, which is secretly a hospital for criminals, the Artemis. During a night of intense rioting due to the public water supply being cut off, several sets of people enter the Artemis. Nice, an assassin using the Artemis as cover to get to her latest target, Acapulco, an arms dealer and Waikiki and Honolulu, brothers who recently robbed a bank, stealing a portable safe from the main crime lord in Los Angeles, the Wolf King. Whilst their stories are going on, the Nurse who runs the Artemis has her own personal issues, involving people from her past and her agoraphobia that she has to deal with, which threaten the stability of the Artemis. Now the biggest problem I have with the film is its tone. Simply put, the film plays everything straight. Unlike films like John Wick, there’s no sense of fun to the film. All the events in the film are played completely seriously, but unlike films like John Wick, there’s no real sense of world building that I could see. Sure there’s background details about the Artemis and the riots in Los Angeles, but not enough time is given to them to give the film more depth. The way everything is presented just comes across as generic, something that could be seen in any dystopian action film. Even the little hints of life in the film are quickly drowned out by the seriousness of it all, which just doesn’t work the way Drew Pearce wants it to. I ultimately didn’t connect to the world or to any of the characters, and it just comes across as predictable as a result.
The cast do their best but they aren’t able to save the film. Jodie Foster is clearly giving her all in the film, effectively showing her agoraphobia and the self destructive tendencies and sense of selflessness that led to her opening the Artemis in the first place, but the character arc she’s given is telegraphed from the start of the film. Sterling K Brown as Waikiki gives a solid performance here as well, and is probably the most compelling character through the relationship through his brother, Honolulu, played by Brian Tyree Henry, but there isn’t enough time given to fully establish the relationship between Waikiki and Honolulu, not helped by Honolulu being unconscious for most of the film. Some life is given to the film by Jeff Goldblum as the Wolf King, but he isn’t in the film long enough to make too much of an impact, having less than 5 minutes of screen time, but he is still able to show the charisma and danger of the Wolf King in his scenes. Sofia Boutella, Charlie Day and Dave Bautista meanwhile are essentially playing Sofia Boutella, Charlie Day and Dave Bautista. The moment you see them, you know exactly how their characters work since they are playing so much to type, and, there isn’t really anything special in their performances. Bautista gets a few moments to show the tender side to him that makes him such a welcome presence and Boutella gets some solid moments with Brown, but Day is incredibly generic and probably could have been cut from the film entirely and nothing would have been lost.
On a technical level, the production design of the Artemis is excellent, giving the hotel a great run down look whilst also showing how it is used as a hospital and as a safe house effectively, with the colour scheme of the film giving the film an air of danger throughout. That’s where the positives end though as the music and cinematography is fairly bland and the direction is fairly standard. The action scenes though are where the film suffers. Firstly, for an action film, there’s only about 5 minutes worth of action, and these scenes are a mixed bag. There’s some good choreography and use of props, but most of the time the camera is zoomed too close to get a proper feel for the action and right when the action is about to get going, the film cuts away so you don’t see it. It doesn’t feel like not seeing the action is the point like in something like You Were Never Really Here, but more a way to hide that there wasn’t any real solution to the problems created in the action scenes.
Overall, I wanted to like Hotel Artemis more than I did. I wanted this to be a fun action film with a good sense of world building, but I got just a generic action film with bland characters and no real personality. Sure the production design is great and the cast do elevate the film to an extent, but I just found myself bored watching this.
My Rating: 2/5