Geek Culture

Geek Review: Hotel Artemis

Imagine Hotel Artemis as one of those destinations that look amazing on paper, and in photographs.

The female lead in this neo-noir film is the ever-reliable Jodie Foster, whom we last saw on the big screen five years ago in Neill Blomkamp’s science fiction flick, Elysium. She portrays a righteous nurse who runs a hotel inhabited by criminals. Algerian actress Sofia Boutella, who is possibly the best thing in the disappointing The Mummy, puts her alluring looks to good use here by playing an assassin. Zachary Quinto, whom we loved as Sylar (from TV series Heroes) and Spock (from the Star Trek reboot movies), takes on a supporting role of a mafia boss’s son.

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The impressive cast list doesn’t stop there. There’s also Charlie Day, who again plays a baddie after his recent turn in Pacific Rim: Uprising, Dave Bautista who won himself thousands of fans after the funny “invisible Drax” scene in Avengers: Infinity War, and Jeff Goldblum whom we wish had more screen time in the currently playing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Each of the actors listed do a decent job in their respective roles, yet something doesn’t quite add up in this movie set in a future Los Angeles. The world is not a happy place, with politicians and gangsters running dirty business. Foster’s character runs a secret and members-only hospital for warlords (think the Continental Hotel in John Wick). Housed inside the titular Hotel Artemis, the 97-minute movie sees shady characters coming together for what seems like a criminal showdown. There is much promise in the setup. What role does moral judgement play when a bad guy is on the operating table? How much deeper will the human race fall with our never-ending list of sins? Is there salvation at the end of the tunnel for us?

British screenwriter and producer Drew Pearce’s original story explores these ideas, but you may only walk out of the theatre with a sense of emptiness after the credits roll. Pearce, who has made a name by writing screenplays for hits such as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, also makes his feature directorial debut here. Unfortunately, the lack of a captivating visual storytelling approach makes the movie a passable affair.

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It is inevitable that we compare this movie with the recent Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Also set in a dystopian Los Angeles, the grimness of the city was breathtakingly visualised on screen, thanks to Roger A. Deakins’s stunning cinematography. That, plus the decision to cast Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, already makes the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Blade Runner (1982) a winner.

While we understand the budget for Pearce’s film is much less, more could have been done to focus on the main themes of the story. While the actors’ performances are commendable, characters do not have much chemistry with each other, making the movie more disengaging than it deserves to be. It does not help with the predictable second half of the film. The only time you sit up and pay attention is during the occasional witty and shocking scenes, which would have done the movie a huge favour if they were coherently gelled together.

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The ensemble cast delivers commendable performances in this neo-noir film set in a dystopian future, but Blade Runner 2049 this is not.

  • Story - 6/10
  • Direction - 6/10
  • Characterisation - 6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 6/10
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