Review: Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis looks a lot like a hotel form the outside. It’s an old building with big bright neon sign that signals to everyone it’s open for business. However, the Artemis isn’t a hotel and it’s not open for everyone. It’s a hospital for criminals and those who traffic in the underworld.

Set in the near future, Hotel Artemis tells the story of one night at the hospital. Not just any night, one of the craziest nights in LA. There’s an ongoing riot over privatized water headed towards the hotel, there’s a guest with a secret, and the biggest crime boss in LA  is on his way. All of this chaos falls on the shoulders of the nurse (Jodie Foster) and her trusty orderly Everest (Dave Bautista) to keep things in order.

Much like a self contained murder mystery, think Murder on the Orient Express, the film opens by establishing the rules of the hotel and introducing the guests. The rules are very much like the Continental hotel in the John Wick series – no weapons, no killing, and only members are allowed on the premises.

However, the guests are a little less straightforward than the rules. All guests go by the name of the room they’re occupying. Waikiki (Sterling K Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) are bank robbing brothers, Nice (Sofia Boutella) is an assassin, and Acapulco (Charlie Day) is a cliché sleazy arms dealer. Each guest has a reason for being at the hotel and an even better reason for why they want to leave.

The Artemis is founded on rules and as those rules get broken, things quickly fall apart.

Director Drew Pearce does a great job of making Artemis feel like a big action film despite it actually being a contained action drama that builds to a explosive action filled finale. The excellent cast and the mystery surrounding its characters is enough to keep the story compelling until the inevitable showdown.

For a film that takes place in one location, the story does an amazing building the world that exist outside the Artemis. From the criminals to the protesters, the audience is given a blueprint for the world that needs a place like the Artemis and why a hospital for criminals would thrive in it.

The dark gritty feel of the hotel sets the tone for the film and paints a picture of futuristic LA where crime is king and everyone has to get a little dirty to get ahead.

Hotel Artemis is an enjoyable action film with some great laughs, thanks Bautista, and some very good actors. Here are the two major takeaways:

First, Sterling K Brown is the next “it” leading man. He’s an incredible actor and in the right vehicle he could be a major star. As the Denzel’s, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Will Smith’s of the world start picking other projects, someone like Sterling K Brown is perfect to star in the next big action franchise.

Second, Sofia Boutella is badass and needs her own movie ASAP. Boutella has the beauty and grace of a supermodel and the ferociousness of an MMA fighter. Mix all that together and you have the blueprint for an action star.  All the proof needed is her incredible hallway fight sequence that looks like a scene from The Raid. At this point, I’d watch Boutella in anything.

Hotel Artemis is the kind of fun action movie the genre is built on. The great performances and comedy hold steady until the action arrives. Drew Pearce makes quite the impression with his feature film debut. Here’s hoping he has another cool futuristic action movie up his sleeve.

Grade: B