Film: Hotel Artemis
Cast: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Sterling K Brown, Zachary Quinto, Brain Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate
Director: Drew Pearce
Rating: * * * and a half
Cast as usual in a strong role, the ever dependable Jodie Foster acquits herself with characteristic panache in a dystopian crime thriller embellished with an emotional backstory and interesting characters. The setting is 2028 in the City of Angels in the US of A, which is debilitated by the diabolical – lawlessness, chaos, violence and riots – the public is rioting for water. And pray who is responsible for the shortage? A wicked corporate, but of course!
Scriptwriter and debut director Drew Pearce (co-writer of Iron Man 3) sets most of the action in the titular establishment, a 13 storey hospital for criminals managed by a tough cookie nurse who knows how to treat the “VIP” patients – with deft hands and an acerbic tongue.
As violence rents the city, two wounded robbers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) check into the Hotel Artemis for treatment by the skilled nurse whose “patients” include an assassin (Sofia Boutella, sizzling), an arms dealer (Charlie Day) and an injured woman cop. A cop! The Nurse has broken the rules by admitting a cop, as the ward boy Everest (Dave Bautista) cautions her. But the backstory (narrated in flashbacks of traumatising memories) brings viewers up to date with the Nurse’s trauma and her connection with the cop.
It’s not long before the Wolfking (Jeff Goldblum) who owns the place checks in and the plot gets even more interesting. Should we say violent? There is a great deal of bloodletting throughout with characters, minor and major, being despatched (to hell or wherever) in gory and terribly imaginative ways.
The set pieces involving fights between various factions are enjoyable. Likewise, the relationships between the characters: whether romantic, filial, parental or plain platonic. The water subplot will interest Mumbaikars and other Indians especially those in the arid north or in Marathwada. But there are other contemporaneous elements which will resonate with Latinos, Mexicans and other folks up in America as one cinematic creep talks about escaping LA by flying “south to the wall”
The violence is relentless and stylised in places and at times, may even seem cartoonish. But there’s little to laugh about in this grim tale. Which is why Mr Pearce must be commended for the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.