ICYMI: “Hotel Artemis” is a Campy Ride that Doesn’t Stop
Jul 4, 2018   •   Macky Macarayan
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Jul 4, 2018   •   Macky Macarayan
By Macky Macarayan
Hotel Artemis isn’t your typical hotel. It is strictly members only, is governed by a set of rules, and although it looks rundown, offers state-of-the-art medical treatment for those who need it. Sounds familiar? “Hotel Artemis,” written and directed by Drew Pearce (the writer of Iron Man 3, who makes his feature-length debut here) draws some similarities to The Continental in John Wick, the exclusive hotel for assassins. We actually thought that this movie was a spinoff. Nevertheless, Hotel Artemis is its own beast, led by another terrific turn from Jodie Foster, whom we missed so much.
Hotel Artemis is governed by a set of rules that members must follow, otherwise they will hit the curb. Guns are not allowed past the gate, there’s no insulting the staff, and like in John Wick, business cannot be conducted on hotel premises, and by business we mean murdering your mark in cold blood. Jodie Foster plays “Nurse,” the administrator of the hotel-slash-medical facility, whose cool composure has allowed her to be immune with the weird goings-on night after night. “Just another Wednesday,” she quips. She has no idea. At all.
Foster has beaten a serial killer in Silence of the Lambs, captured the heart of Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, and showed us the wrath of a vengeful citizen in The Brave One. Here, dressed only in her PJs and armed with a medical kit, she shows everybody who’s the boss; not even murderous thugs are a match for Foster’s principled hotel administrator.
Dave Bautista plays Foster’s sidekick Everest, an orderly who knocks jokes and sarcasm like nobody’s business; when that doesn’t work, he will knock you down on the ground, or throw you into a wall. Meanwhile, Sofia Boutella (who should be given more action roles) plays Nice, a French assassin who is among the Artemis’ colorful band of guests for the night. Her skill with knives will make you think twice about crossing her. The body count goes high quicker than you can say “checkout time.”
The film is set in 2028 in L.A., in the middle of a massive riot. Perhaps a throwback to the 1992 L.A. riots, the setup allowed the characters to be trapped within the confines of the hotel. The film also talks about crime and punishment, and eventually, capitalism, where a basic utility becomes scarce due to corporate monopoly. In hindsight, why are the hotel guests nicknamed with global cities like Nice (France) or Acapulco (Mexico)? This might be overstretching the idea, but perhaps the film wants to talk about a global community, hence the presence of different nationalities, and the accompanying indifference and intolerance that is indicative of current socio-political climate in the U.S. and beyond.
During the beginning of the film, the police are protecting the corporation that controls the water supply. Later, they are seen cracking down on suspected protesters, which finds the nurse in peril. Although the film may have its anti-authoritarian views, it also attempts to empathize with the law, with the arrival of a wounded cop named Morgan (Jenny Slate), who shares an important past with the nurse. The nurse, despite the risk to her business, decides to shelter the wounded cop.
In the film, men rule the city, and while corporations monopolize resources, the man behind the curtain is the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum), a crime kingpin that has his hands on everything, including Hotel Artemis. Nevertheless, the nurse, who runs the hotel, doesn’t budge. She stands up against harassment through her unshakeable belief in rules, because without it, men would be savages.
Chung Chung-hoon is the man responsible for the film’s stylishly dark composition. Having previously worked on Park Chan-wook’s films such as Oldboy, Stoker and The Handmaiden, and the latest version of Stephen King’s It, Chung-hoon paints a looming mix of dread, noir and post-apocalyptic aura that matches the film’s themes of order and chaos. Visual feast is an understatement.
If you want to see a mild-mannered orderly that will also break your bones if you disrespect the hotel’s rules (like assault the nurse), or Jeff Goldblum in full Jeff Goldblum mode, or Sofia Boutella finding creative ways to neutralize enemies, then Hotel Artemis is your movie.
Snaps from the movie trailer.
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