Film review: Hotel Artemis is a dark and dazzling action thriller

Sterling K. Brown and Sofia Boutella in Hotel Artemis (2018). Picture: WME GLOBAL

Sterling K. Brown and Sofia Boutella in Hotel Artemis (2018). Picture: WME GLOBAL - Credit: Archant

In a weekend dominated by relentlessly optimistic musical romantic comedies, fabulous animation and big budget blockbusters, writer-producer Drew Pearce’s directorial debut is a refreshing change for those who like their films darker in spirit and meaner in tone.

Set in Los Angeles 10 years hence, the film sees a group of disparate, injured criminals including brothers Waikiki (Sterling K Brown) and Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella) and arms dealer Acapulco (Charlie Day) seek refuge from the violent rioting on the streets in the titular hospital, only to find themselves in greater danger when crime kingpin the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum) arrives.

With its futuristic setting, volatile characters and labyrinthine setting, the film’s central premise shares some DNA with Pete Travis’ Dredd (2012) and Joe Lynch’s Mayhem (2017), but where those films’ delights arose from their ultra-violent, highly stylised fight sequences, Hotel Artemis’ lie in the compelling, darkly comic exchanges between its guests and the dark secrets many of them harbour.

Jodie Foster‘s agoraphobic head nurse Jean Thomas is especially captivating, her tough, no-nonsense demeanour masking a crushing sadness. Along with Dave Bautista’s mountainous, warm-hearted orderly Everest, they serve as a nice counterpoint to the morally flexible criminals around them, particularly Goldblum’s charming, softly-spoken monster.

Brown’s protective older brother is equally complex, his efforts to leave a life of crime impeded by his loyalty to his unstable sibling. This tetrad of performances anchor a dark, thrilling and dazzling neo-noir action thriller.

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