Writer/director Drew Pearce’s new film Hotel Artemis is one of those movies that isn’t bad, but it feels like it could have been a lot better.
In Los Angeles of the near future, citizens are rioting over water shortages while a bank robbery (headed by Sterling K. Brown) goes bad. Brown’s brother is seriously wounded in the heist, so they travel to the Hotel Artemis, an underground hospital for criminals run by a nurse (Jodie Foster). Also staying at the hotel are a French assassin (Sofia Boutella), an arms dealer (Charlie Day), and the orderly/bouncer (Dave Bautista). Things become more complicated when a wounded local mob kingpin (Jeff Goldblum) and his sizable entourage show up.
It’s a decent premise for an Assault on Precinct 13 style thriller. It’s nice to see the two-time Oscar winner Foster headlining a new film, and she doesn’t disappoint. Brown, who was also excellent in FX’s The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, proves he has leading man potential here. In an era of bloated runtimes, Pearce admirably keeps the proceedings brief at 93 minutes.
However, there are structural issues. The screenplay creates a seemingly impossible situation for its characters with the riots closing in and with Goldblum’s mini-army prowling the lobby, but the resolution feels too quick, too easy. The script would have been better served to have the mobsters arrive a little earlier and allow more time for the characters to fight their way out. As presented here, the 3rd act makes the villains seem only slightly more competent than Stormtroopers. Lastly, a late plot twist linking Goldblum to Foster’s past feels forced and unnecessary.