(hoopla/VOD) HOTEL ARTEMIS is about a hospital for criminals masquerading as a hotel. Sure, that may make you think about JOHN WICK. Doesn’t make me think about JOHN WICK, but I’ve only seen the first so far, and the design, style, and intent of HOTEL ARTEMIS seems completely different than JOHN WICK.
While it’s centered around a criminal-centric hospital, HOTEL ARTEMIS also takes place in the ‘not-too-distant future’ where folks are rioting about water allocation in LA and, well, really, the only way you can tell this is in the future is because all of the criminals have cool toys. The titular hotel is a gilded age throwback (inspired by LA’s Hotel Alexandria) featuring plenty of art deco flourishes and vintage wallpaper, resulting in an extremely attractive feat of production design, and again, the only way you can tell the hotel exists in the future is because of all of the cool toys The Nurse (Jodie Foster) has to help heal her patients.
I’d still recommend HOTEL ARTEMIS for the production design and all of its plot and character machinations, but they also wrangled a hell of a cast clearly loving their time at the hotel. Not only does the film have Foster adopting an awkward running gait (and donning surprisingly decent age makeup), Dave Bautista is the stern-but-kind-eyed orderly glue that holds the hotel — and the film — together, Sterling K. Brown is the sympathetic bank robber, Jeff Goldblum is a cheshire-grinning mobster, Sophia Boutella is the stylish assassin, and other surprises.
The ensemble, as well as the use of throwback needle drops, certainly gives off a whiff of Tarantino fetishism, but HOTEL ARTEMIS is more concerned with escalating tension, as opposed to luxuriating in its mood and dialogue.
The film doesn’t completely hold together — really, how many of the great heist films do? — and it ends on a whimper — how many of the great heist films don’t? — but the well-honed action, atmosphere, and charming performances made me forget those shortcomings.
“This is America. 85 percent of what I fix is bullet holes.”