‘Hotel Artemis’ Review

Director: Drew Pearce

Writer: Drew Pearce

Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum

Synopsis: Set in riot-turn, near-future Los Angeles, ‘Hotel Artemis’ follows the Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Hotel Artemis, the directorial debut of Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce, has been on my radar since it was announced. Sure the movie drew comparisons to John Wick right off the bat, so the question was what was the movie going to do to stand out? Well, Hotel Artemis does do enough to make it stand on its own, but unlike its spiritual counterpart – for the lack of a better phrase – Hotel Artemis would rather build up the tension for a grand finale.

Set in Los Angeles in 2028, the city is rioting over the lack of water, but during all of that, two brothers (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) pull off a bank heist that doesn’t go as planned. After Henry’s character gets injured, Brown’s character takes him to the Hotel Artemis, a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals to go to get patched up and lay low. There, they met The Nurse (Jodie Foster), who runs the establishment with her head of security, Everest (Dave Bautista). The Nurse gives everyone there nicknames according to their rooms; Brown gets Waikiki, while Henry gets Honolulu.

As Waikiki’s brother gets patched up, we meet other occupants of Hotel Artemis in a loud and foul-mouthed businessman Acapulco (Charlie Day), the French assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella), and a cop played by Jenny Slate. Things look to be going smoothly until The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) enters the picture, and things go to hell pretty fast from there.

While the trailers and TV spots focus on the action in Hotel Artemis, you’ll be surprised – maybe disappointed if you were absolutely looking for that – that Pearce shows a lot of restraint and keeps the action to a minimal until the very end. What Pearce does instead is build up these characters and world before unleashing the action scenes, which is actually kind of refreshing.

Also, the fact that Pearce was able to get a cast like this on his first feature is quite the coup. Everyone nails their roles to a tee. Jodie Foster, despite being behind-the-camera for years now, reminds us why she was such a great actress. The Nurse is the most fleshed out character out of everyone, reaching every emotion available, and while he’s not as colorful as other characters like Day’s Acapulco, her character doesn’t lend to that anyway.

Sterling K. Brown’s Waikiki is a man with a plan for everything, and more level-head than anyone involved including his mess-up for a brother. Sofia Boutella’s Nice is arguably the most dangerous of them all, and has a history with Waikiki that sadly doesn’t play out the way Pearce probably intended it when he wrote the script. Dave Bautista’s Everest is what you’d expect from a Dave Bautista role by now, and that’s okay in my book. Charlie Day looks to be having some fun with his role, but it doesn’t quite click for me. Finally, Jeff Goldblum’s The Wolf King, the man that runs L.A., is really nothing more, sadly, than a glorified cameo. And while his short time on screen is great, it does lead to some important events for the rest of the movie.

Another thing that sets Hotel Artemis apart from other similar movies – yes it does have some sequel bait/world building – is the impressive production design by Ramsey Avery. We are told by The Nurse, that she has worked for the Artemis for twenty-two years. The halls and rooms look old, but some way they look like a room you’d find in nice hotel. Combine that with the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung, who did It, and you got yourself a great looking movie.

All in all, Hotel Artemis is a solid action thriller that’s worth your time. What Drew Pearce was able to do with his familiar concept, and what he was able to get from his impressive cast for his first feature is impressive. Despite promotion making you think the movie is a shoot ‘em up action thriller, Hotel Artemis takes you down another road that is actually worth it. With a slow build for a big finale, great character development and fleshed out characters, and great production design and cinematography, Hotel Artemis is something to check it out, and something I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to.

Hotel Artemis

3.5 out of 5

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‘Elysium’ Review

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Dir: Neil Blomkamp

Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura and William Fichnter

Synopsis: Set in the year 2154, where the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds

 

*Review Note:This is a non-spoiler review as always.”

 

In 2009 Neill Blomkamp gave to us one of the best sci-fi films in a while with District 9. It wasn’t just an action movie but so a social commentary that hit a chord with many people and earned itself a Best Picture Oscar nomination in the process. Now, Blomkamp has given us Elysium, an equally intelligent sci-fi film that replaces the issue of racism with poverty, immigration and overpopulation but also delivers great action sequences.

The world has been divided into two very distinct groups: the poor, who live on the diseased and overcrowded earth, and the wealthy, who have fled to a man-made space station called ‘Elysium’ in order to preserve their privileged way of life.

Through flashbacks we are introduced to Max (Damon), an orphan struggling to understand the world he’s apart of. Max’s ambition is to one day make it onto Elysium, but when we encounter him as an adult in the ruined Los Angeles, he couldn’t be further from fulfilling that dream

Serving parole and working on an assembly line building robots Max’s life is made more terrible when he suffers an accident at work which has devastating consequences on his health, making his need to reach Elysium all the more important. Meanwhile, Secretary Delacourt (Foster)– responsible for the defense of Elysium – is finding herself frustrated by the administration and wants to do something drastic to change it.

Max, with no way out of his situation, goes to his old boss Spider (Wagner Moura) with the help of his friend Julio (Diego Luna) to find away up to Elysium. This brings in the mechanic exoskeleton that we see Damon wear. The suit not only gives him the strength but serves another purpose to the story. When Spider sets a plan a motion Delacourt activates Kruger (Copley) ,a sleeper agent who is charged with the task of doing her bidding on earth.

It’s pretty cool concept once you see the whole movie. Blomkamp seems to be very good at this brand of high-concept sci-fi, the film’s narrative similar to District 9 in that it sets up a credible future-world, takes an ordinary man, places him in extraordinary circumstances, gives him near superhuman powers (alien DNA in D9, a mech-suit here) and follows his efforts to smash the system.

Aesthetically Elysium isn’t really that similar to District 9 (although you shouldn’t compare the two really). The visuals are more sophisticated this time around, the technological advancements made in the last four years make Elysium seem like what the movies makes it out to be, a wonderful place to live, if you can afford it of course.

Unlike District 9, the film is filled with a well known cast lead by Matt Damon. His Max character is a complicated character to the point where we know he’s an ex-convict trying to make an honest living but has to do things he knows are wrong in order to make it right. The flashback scenes and his relationship with Frey (Braga), a childhood friend, make him more sympathetic toward the viewer.

Foster’s Delacourt is interesting. She can be seen as the villain (although I didn’t see her as the real villain of the movie) but all her action are done to protect “the habitat” as she refers to it. The weird part though is Foster’s accent. I’m not one to complain about actors accents but it seemed like Foster was struggling a bit to keep it when she had long speeches. William Fichtner plays a businessman John Carlyle who shares most of his screen time with Foster and although a short role it’s important.

The standout however is Sharlto Copley as Kruger. He’s a man of few words at first but gradually starts to become a hassle to everybody involved. You can tell he had a lot of fun playing the role and he chews up the scenery when he’s on camera which I was okay with.

Ultimately Elysium is Neill Blomkamp’s film. The visuals are great to look at and even though it has a cool and pretty original story; the film does have some sci-fi elements we’ve seen before (still cool to watch though) but also goes into a straight action film.

All in all, Elysium has everything;  sci-fi, action, some humor, a great story with cool characters and is damn entertaining.

 

Elysium

4.5 out of 5