Maria McQuillan, Arts & Entertainments Co-Editor.
Hotel Artemis feels like it should be smarter and slicker than it is. As a film, it is credited as a “Sci-fi/Thriller” but honestly, it feels like neither. Very little in the film makes it shocking or thrilling and I spent much of the film wondering how long was left of it. There is an awful lot wrong with it. In the same way ‘Hotel Artemis’ is a sham of a hotel, Hotel Artemis is a sham of a film.
The plot is an immediate and continuing problem throughout the film. The movie begins with both a bank heist and news of terrible riots happening in the city because water has been cut off for the poor. Immediately, two points that the film could make: crime and poverty. But the plot then directly bypasses these, using the bank heist as a plot device to move two characters to the ‘Hotel Artemis’, and almost entirely ignores the other, save from a few comments throughout the film made mostly by Charlie Day’s character about how the poor are like animals. Neither of these parts of the film setting are properly delved into or discussed by the other characters. Instead, the action turns to ‘Hotel Artemis’, where any sense of thriller, immediately dies. Having the film based in one location can often work well for building tension and creating intimacy between characters. It does neither in Hotel Artemis. Characters are whisked in and out of scenes, so any intimacy between characters feels contrived and bland. The only exception is the relationship between Jodie Foster and Dave Bautista’s characters, which is honestly one of the only good things in this film. If the plot had focused more on them, it probably would have worked better. Unfortunately, we are forced to view the other characters in the film, whose plot-lines and character development are, frankly, abysmal.
What really irks you as a viewer though, is the cast. It’s brilliant on paper, and it really doesn’t jell with what we see on screen. Charlie Day’s character is one in particular I had a large issue with. He is an arms dealer in a world where technology has greatly developed. Anything, including a liver bizarrely enough, can be printed and created. Rather than make him a menacing character, or even make use of his excellent comedic skills, the film portrays him as this weak, stupid character, only used to drive the plot occasionally forward, and make snide comments about the poor. Hilariously enough, we get more social commentary from him, than any other character in the film. He is what is used, along with prominently displayed TV screens, to build the world of this film. Jeff Goldblum is by far the best in the cast, as his turn as ‘The Wolf King’ is easily the funniest and most threatening, but even he fails to completely hit the right note. Jodie Foster holds the film together in her role, as she connects most of the plot, but there was only so much she could do. Her lines and plot go between witty and snarky to deeply sentimental, and unfortunately, the timing nine ties out of ten just felt off, which again, I would attribute to the plot and pacing issues.
There’s no other way to put it: it’s deeply disappointing as a film. From its Wes Anderson interior aesthetic, to the musical interludes that reminded me of Guardians of The Galaxy, it felt so false and unoriginal and failed to give any sense of originality. Hotel Artemis tries it’s best to be kooky and original, but the whole film just feels (at best) a homage to better films, or (at worst) a poor copy.
Director: Drew Pearce
Starring: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, and Jeff Goldblum
Run-time: 110 mins.