Hotel Artemis – There’s nothing Fawlty here

by Shane Dillon
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Summer is well and truly seeing blockbusters blaze a trail through the cinema chains at the moment, with a dizzying number of high-profile blockbusters and big-name films currently swooping in.

Whether taking in the guilty pleasure delights of Tom Cruise’s latest dumb but fun Mission Impossible, or catching the great return of The Incredibles, it’s almost enough to make you cry “Mamma Mia 2!” as you ponder your choices.

You’d almost want to take a break from such a difficult decision – and where better to take a break than at the eponymous Hotel Artemis (Cert 16, 94 mins)?

Artemis marks the welcome return of Jodie Foster, who doesn’t make many films these days but picks her projects carefully, with this hotel giving her plenty of space to exercise her comedic chops as she scurries about.

In a near future world that’s almost and virtually identical to our own, Foster is The Nurse – effectively the caretaker, manager, doctor and prisoner of the Hotel Artemis, an exclusive joint that only caters for criminals and crooks, and which is half hotel, half hospital.

After all, if you’re on the lam, possibly with some unrequested bullets interfacing with your arm, you need the right place to crash at and get help.

The Nurse runs a tight ship, with the Artemis’s guests given temporary, anonymous room names such as ‘Honolulu’, as an uneasy but rigidly enforced peace is maintained at the Artemis, no matter what’s happening outside, and who the guests are.

Outside the Artemis, things are rapidly going to hell, with Los Angeles facing rioting over water privatisation – not such an unbelievable future world, this – and some new guests to check in, following an opportunistic heist elsewhere.

The only problem is, a merciless head honcho – the Wolf King – has also been ripped off and knows that the Artemis is hiding the two-bit crooks who’ve got his loot.

The scene is set for the Artemis to face some unwanted, violent would-be ‘guests’ attempting to get in, while its equally violent guests know that their lives are at stake if this happens.

Meanwhile the city continues to go to hell, with The Nurse at the middle of it all, trying to maintain order and get through this particularly long, rough night at The Artemis …
At least it’s a new twist in the slightly tired heist-gone-wrong genre, with the Artemis inviting some scenery-chewing turns from its guests.

Foster’s great with her weary but efficient role, and Jeff Goldblum, as the other A-List marquee name, turns up to largely riff on the Jeff Goldblum as ‘Jeff Goldblum’ shtick he’s been doing for some years.

Put them together as complex characters trying to outwit each other, and there are some sparky interactions to enjoy.

Speaking of enjoyable, the supporting cast also do a decent job with their roles, with man-mountain Dave Bautista generating laughs with his role as The Nurse’s dedicated-to-his-work assistant.

The B-plots (such as an unwelcome policeman guests, breaking one of the Artemis’s primary rules) are also fine, moving things briskly along.

But with the Artemis, the core and side plots are almost incidental, as it’s a film to enjoy pretty much for the sheer charisma of its leads alone.

With Foster, Goldblum and Bautista for company, you could certainly do a lot worse than checking into the Artemis for an hour and a half…
Verdict: 7/10

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