Hotel Artemis Review (2018)
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?: NO, BUT YES
IMAX: NO - 3D: NO - MID-CREDITS: YES - POST-CREDITS: NO
SAVE FOR SOME SERIOUS ACTING CHOPS AND A DECENT POPCORN PREMISE, HOTEL ARTEMIS SQUANDERS ITS GIFTS WITH MESSY WRITING AND WASTED ACTION POTENTIAL
In this near-future action flick, we find California in the midst of the worst riot in recent memory. The company in charge of fresh water has closed its valves to the citizens and that's sure to make a few people angry. Taking advantage of the riot, a group of criminals led by two brothers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) seek to rob a bank and get away amidst the chaos. The error of being human leads to human error and just like that, you've got several wounded or near dead and the criminals need a place to heal up and lay low. Enter: Artemis.
Hotel Artemis is a safe house for the criminal underworld. In the vein of John Wick, the hotel has rules. Rules for the guests and rules for the staff. If everyone abides by the rules, everything goes swimmingly. However, the error of being human leads to human error and just like that, you've got chaos brimming under the surface at first, and then escaping people's arteries and veins. The catalyst for all this when the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) shows up, injured, with an entourage that includes his emasculated and psychotically-eager son (Zachary Quinto). The place is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster) and her endearing orderly Everest (Dave Bautista).
To round out the cast we have a beautiful performance by Sofia Boutella as The French Assassin and a campy, Charlie-Day-esqe performance by Charlie Day as The Arms Dealer. If you've ever seen Charlie Day in a movie then there's nothing more to see here. He's basically a douche-bag version of himself. Boutella, on the other hand, continues to surprise with the amount of weight she can shoulder as an actress. She's not ready to carry an A-List Hollywood movie just yet, but maybe soon. She definitely handles action choreography well. She's one of the better points of the film. Dave Bautista is...problematic. Nothing really wrong with his performance per se. He's not amazing, and he's not terrible. He's Dave Bautista. However, his character is overtly Latinx. A quick google search lets me know that he is not. Well, to be fair, his mother has Greek ancestry and his father has Filipino ancestry. Both of which seem to barely qualify as Latin countries for convoluted reasons. However, looking at the spirit of the character, I don't think they should have gone with Bautista. I could be missing something, but just cast someone who is actually Latinx. What's the big deal?
Another stand-out performance was Jeff Goldblum as the Wolf King. To be honest, the film never fully reached upward trajectory, quality-wise, until he showed up. The man is walking charisma. He delivers a line with the best of them and when he's in a room with Jodie Foster's Nurse, forget about it. The two of them are in a class by themselves, even though Foster's character can be a little on-the-nose, shall we say?
Zachary Quinto's character is a bomb waiting to go off. We only get the barest glimpses as to his "why", but he does a serviceable job as the son desperately trying to win his father's love and acknowledgment. The co-main player here is Sterling K. Brown's character as the criminal just trying to look after his brother, finding himself in the life he so desperately wants to let go of. Or does he? He never really has room to shine with so many players and moving parts to consider. He definitely has the chops for some solid action work as well as drama. Of course many of you know him from This Is Us, and even Black Panther but go back a few years and find his arc in Supernatural as a Hunter off the deep end. He can do intimidating, sexy, dramatic, and has the physical goods to pull off a believable hero a la Jason Bourne. Just give this man all the roles. Please.
If you have MoviePass, you should definitely use it on this flick. I wouldn't recommend paying full price for it because, in all honesty, it would be a waste, but find a way. Give our black actors some space to shine. See it as a matinee offering if you have to. If you're really bout it, go ahead and do a full price screening, but find a way to let these folks know we want to see more PoC. Don't get me wrong. The movie isn't BAD, but it has some glaring flaws that take you out of merriment. The movie barely holds itself together. Save for some serious acting chops and a decent popcorn premise, Hotel Artemis squanders its gifts with messy writing and wasted action potential. Still though, give her a shot.