What is better than a film about good guys fighting bad guys? Well, bad guys fighting bad guys. If it involves Jodie Foster, who hasn’t been on the big screen for a long time, then it can only be better right? Hotel Artemis centers around a hotel for criminals, where a nurse takes care of their wounds while they can recover in safety, as long as they pay their membership. There are a couple of rules in the hotel, because hey, we are dealing with criminals. Sounds familiar? While a similar hotel is canon to the John Wick series, Hotel Artemis doesn’t have any connections to the other series. In fact, director Drew Pearce said he never thought about John Wick at all, saying he got his inspiration from Casablanca. But the most important question is, is Hotel Artemis worth the watch?
One of the things about this film that I discovered while watching it, was that it was not what I expected. At all. From the trailers, I was convinced this was a high action flick that would have me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately, only half of the film is indeed that. The first half of the film is solely devoted to introducing the characters and the storyline. While this is not necessarily a problem, it does slow down the pace so much that the film becomes a little bit dull at some point.
The creators seemed determined to put a lot of backstory into the film. The downside to this is that in the end it just becomes very confusing. We learn many things about Foster’s Nurse, but the reason for her to run Hotel Artemis are not entirely clear. When another character confesses something that should be a deal breaker, the Nurse just reacts anger and then walks away. There is also the issue of another character who is not supposed to be at the hotel. The Nurse cares for her anyway, because she knew her son. This character then just disappears, never to be mentioned again.
The second half of the film is filled with action and it finally gets interesting. However, it seems like the violence and gore in this part don’t serve any purpose, apart from just shocking the audience. While this was the most interesting part (and I want Sofia Boutella’s dress), it came a little too late. By this time, I had already stopped caring about these characters. This story has an interesting premise and it could have been much better than it ended up becoming.
One thing that certainly doesn’t disappoint is the A-list cast. Apart from Jodie Foster, the film features Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Thor: Ragnarok), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther), Charlie Day (The Lego Movie, Pacific Rim) and Sophia Boutella (Kingsman, the Mummy) among others. The cast certainly does their best working with the material they were given. It’s also very clear that they are enjoying every minute of this crime epos. Unfortunately that joy and love for the film doesn’t translate to the audience per se.
The film had a budget of $15 million dollars, which might be enough for a romantic comedy, but it just doesn’t suffice for such an ambitious project like Hotel Artemis. Apparently, some of the actors even chipped in with their own money to make it work.
Hotel Artemis is not a bad film per se. While the cast is doing a great job, the magic just doesn’t translate well on the big screen and audiences just aren’t captivated in a way they should be. The film is ambitious and could have benefited from less backstory in random moments, which significantly slowed the film down. It’s a fun watch for just a single time, but it won’t whisk you away and impress you.