Kelly Likes the First Half of Hotel Artemis (2018)!

Hotel 001Rating: C

Rating: CRating: C

Summary: Hotel Artemis is a members-only emergency room for some pretty terrible people who typically get caught up in (more) Los Angeles riots.

I went into this movie with little to no expectations due the the really small amount of fanfare this received in comparison to Ocean’s 8. It kind of reminded me of The Hateful Eight meets The Purge meets The Great Gatsby– a small environment in an alternative political climate in a swanky art deco hotel.

Uh, basics. LA (and I presume the rest of the country, perhaps even the world) is in some sort of water shortage, and uh… political struggle, class war, who knows. They kind of skate over this. Anyway, riots, amirite? The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs Hotel Artemis, a sort of exclusive, members-only emergency room and all the rooms are named after cities and their patrons referred to as such. When Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Brown) need some care after a bank heist goes wrong… well, the hotel goes wrong too.

This sounds great, right? I say the first half of the movie because the set-up is fantastic. The look, the feel, the premise, the bits and backstory about the characters- all feels very fresh and organic and- the cast chemistry is great. When I looked up the run-time (about an hour and a half), I was a little skeptical because 90-minute movies have been mostly misses for me- but considering the small-time nature of this movie, it had the chance to be nice and consolidated. Experimental movies can be short and sometimes benefit from this.

So when I got to what felt like the middle of the movie, I was all in mostly due to Brown, who is a superb actor and had interesting interactions with pretty much everyone, including Sofia Boutella’s assassin character Nice, who wears a long, impractical dress for whatever reason. (Sidenote: she’s badass and the action is really, really good in this. I think Boutella deserves to be a huge star.) Somewhere, the focus switches over to the Nurse, who has a pre-riot tragedy, innate need to help people, and refuses to leave the Hotel… wait, what?

Now, the lack of focus on the Nurse’s story in the beginning takes away from the emotional impact it’s trying to hit. We’re kind of along for Waikiki’s ride- the movie opens on the bank robbery, the brotherly relationship is explained, Honolulu is on life support- and how he’s going to get out of all of this. The emotional beats are all there. Then it just… fades into Foster’s narrative and heads back to Waikiki only when the hotel’s power goes out towards the end. I didn’t really feel all that connected to her and her arc, the characters that come into it, don’t feel important at all. It might have been different had everything just opened with Foster running the hotel and having Waikiki and Honolulu just show up breathless. Don’t get me wrong- she’s a pretty interesting character with her own backstory but it’s almost like they remove Waikiki entirely from his main character role so the movie feels like it goes off its tracks. Why don’t they elaborate more on his relationship with Nice? Why does he turn menacing so quickly? WHY IS HE ROBBING A BANK WHEN CURRENCY DOESN’T REALLY SEEM TO MATTER? So many questions.

Hotel Artemis had a lot of potential to be the thriller and action movie it was aiming to be- there’s plenty of good humor, good acting, good action, and creative use of the hotel to be interesting. It just doesn’t have enough time to do what it wants with the characters it has. I liked enough parts of this, but I’m also glad I used MoviePass to see it. I’d hang out and wait for this to show up on some streaming service.

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