This is the first movie Jodie Foster has starred in in five years, the last one being Elysium, which was also a dystopian type of future, that dealt with a lot of medical equipment that could heal you up quickly.
This was Blade Runner meets Escape From New York, taking the hotel from John Wick and instead of calling it the Cosmopolitan, it’s called Hotel Artemis. It’s run by “Nurse” who is the exact opposite of Nurse Ratched. Instead of wanting to give frontal lobotomies to the bad patients, this Nurse wants to heal them all. Despite the fact that you have to have a membership to get into this hotel, it’s merely for high profile criminals willing to pay a hefty fee. It’s a hotel and hospital, where after the third act we realize you can check in any time you like, but…you can never leave [cue Lebowski screaming, “No Eagles, man!”]
This is a frustrating movie because it had so many great elements, and so many disappointing ones. I’ll start with the star-studded cast of the first movie by director Drew Pearce (writer of Iron Man 3 and a Mission Impossible film).
Foster has a great accent, and a terrific make-up team to made her look a lot older. Yet it was corny having her look at photos of the son she lost, before chugging some booze. It was also hard to buy a side-plot involving Jenny Slate as an injured cop that wants in.
Sterling K. Brown is good as a bank robber who robbed a bank with his loser brother (Brian Tyree Henry of Atlanta), and needs wounds treated. He also has good chemistry with an ex-girlfriend, played by Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, Kingsmen: The Secret Service). She’s a contract killer who is there to kill the guy that owns the place, and half of L.A. — the Wolf King (played in a nice, somewhat restrained way by Jeff Goldblum).
Dave Bautista, the WWE star, brings the same humor he brought to Guardians of the Galaxy. Each time he points to his badge saying, “I’m a healthcare professional” the audience cracked up.
There are riots over clean water and a company that’s monopolizing it (in a lot more violent way than Chinatown).
Yet with all the good things going, it just wasn’t very suspenseful. There were interesting set pieces, and a cool retro-modern score by Cliff Martinez, but the plot was just so weak. It all feels like we’ve done this stuff before.
It’s also silly when a movie has so many futurist devices (weapons, medical equipment, etc.), and it’s merely 10 years in the future. Even dumber when there’s a character that would still rather play a turntable, instead of the much more convenient downloaded version of a song. [side note: movies need to stop using “California Dreamin’”]
Charlie Day goes against type, playing a chauvinistic jerk (that seems to be channeling Joe Pesci). He’s a lot of fun in his scenes.
Zachary Quinto, playing a heavy with a tattooed neck, is cliche.
With such interesting set designs, it’s a shame Chung-hoon Chung, the talented cinematographer who shot Oldboy, couldn’t do much to liven up a tower of terror. Oh, and I could never figure out why they had such a huge neon sign on the roof. Wouldn’t you want the location of a place like this to be a bit more low-key? That way cops (like Jenny Slate) don’t show up on your doorstep.
I was glad this movie wasn’t filled with non-stop fight scenes. Those get old quick, and the one with Boutella in the hallway with some thugs, is a bit of fun.
The humor in this was much needed and worked well. But by the end of the movie, there just wasn’t enough character development (the movie was just under an hour and a half).
I predict it will be Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movie of the year, though.
I’m giving it an extra half star for having Goldblum quote lyrics from a Doors’ song.
2 ½ stars out of 5.