Sometimes you just have to take a flyer on a film you’re really not sure about. You know, just go in and hope for the best. Throughout the past few years, I have tried to do this as much as possible, but it’s been tough given all the franchises circling Hollywood these days. Figure the next two weekends, the box office will be owned by a couple of sequels, begging the question of if there are any new ideas out there? I mean, I will take anything different at this point, which is exactly how I ended up in the theater for “Hotel Artemis,” a film that surprisingly is better than it looks.
This futuristic-infused story is not deep, but it tries to be in some extremely subtle ways that if you pay attention could hit home. That said, it wasn’t trying to be something it’s not which I appreciate. Far too often we get these films that forcefully add in certain emotion or backstories that never hit home. But, mixed in lightly is fine, which is exactly where I would put The Nurse’s (Jodie Foster) story, one that was quite unique within the confines of her unique establishment. Figure that’s about the only word that make sense given the type of clients she treats. You see this ‘Hotel Artemis’ gave a new meaning to the term “R & R” as any criminal who was a member, could call at any time to seek refuge. On this night of June 21, 2028 that member was none other than Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) who after robbing a bank with his brother Honululu (Brian Tyree Henry), needed a place to stay after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. Once admitted we find there are two other guests currently recovering at hotel, Acapulco (Charlie Day) and Nice (Sofia Boutella), both of which appear to have their own agenda’s outside of their injuries. And that’s when things really started to get interesting with this story, as we not only were learning more about the Nurse, but also the people that she was treating leading to a ridiculous yet satisfying conclusion.
While you can’t get too excited with the cast involved with this film, Jodie Foster is still Jodie Foster. I realize she hasn’t really done anything substantial as far as acting since maybe 2006 or 2007 when she was in “Inside Man” and “The Brave One.” But, she has found a new passion behind the camera where she is mostly found these days, making you wonder what drew her back to acting for this film. I mean, on paper, this doesn’t really suit anything she has recently done, yet I found her performance riveting. She was quirky and very particular about the way she moved and talked, which was impressive to see given the content of this story. It was definitely a different kind of Foster and one we probably haven’t seen since maybe “The Accused.” So while this role won’t win her an Academy Award, it still shows the acting prowess Foster can employ at any time no matter the project. I just wish we could have dived more into her character’s past a bit more given just how dynamic of an establishment Hotel Artemis was. That said, Foster did have some help with Sterling K. Brown supporting her. Brown, who many know from TV’s This is Us, was good in limited moments and along with Sofia Boutella (“The Mummy”;“Atomic Blonde”) certainly helped solidify the story on screen. Boutella specifically was memorable thanks to some impressive fight sequences that would rival anything Scarlett Johansson has been doing in the Marvel films as Black Widow. So with any luck, this role will help her get a few more calls as Botuella just as a certain presence about her that is hard to ignore.
I know a lot of people probably won’t even watch this, but in case they do, they might appreciate the style of first-time director David Pearce. Also wearing the hat as writer, Pearce made sure he used every inch of the set inside this space dubbed Hotel Artemis. That was crucial, as he was able to sort of mold the story in a way that felt as if the hotel was also a character. I liked that and can the see potential he carries as not just a writer, but also a director. Using tight camera angles and low lighting only added to the overall aura of the story Figure, everyone has to start somewhere and while this film might not earn what it deserves at the box office, enough of Hollywood will see it. Formerly known as Film noir, Neo-noir is tough to sell and is not exactly a genre a lot of moviegoers will admit to liking given the darker undertones. But, that’s only really only one side to the genre, as it also is meant to be a more stylish and unconventional to other similar themed stories. And while Pearce didn’t do everything perfect here, his film still can serve as a reminder that there are different genre’s out there that can still be worthwhile if given the right touch.