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European films

Hotel Artemis film review: Jodie Foster shines in grungy futuristic thriller

Foster rises to the challenge of playing a woman much older than herself in Drew Pearce’s seemingly Seven-influenced film about a secret hospital for wounded criminals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2018, 7:00pm

3.5/5 stars

Unspooling in the style of a dark graphic novel by Alan Moore – which it isn’t – and seemingly influenced by David Fincher’s gloomy Seven, grungy futuristic thriller Hotel Artemis is certainly unusual, and it is impossible to work out how it’s going to end.

That’s one thing to praise about the film in this era of identikit mainstream cinema. Added to that is the pleasure of watching Jodie Foster rising to the challenge of playing a woman much older than herself. The result is imaginative and effective, if not exactly a barrel of laughs.

Hotel Artemis is set in a future Los Angeles that is beset by mass rioting. Somewhere in the city, Doctor Jean aka “The Nurse” (Foster) runs the titular hotel – which is in reality a secret hospital for wounded criminals – with her massive orderly Everest (Dave Bautista).

An array of eccentric gangsters inhabit its rooms, including the doleful bank robber Sherman (Sterling K. Brown), vicious assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella), and mouthy arms dealer Acapulco (Charlie Day). Jean’s many rules keep the small hospital running in an orderly fashion, but even she can’t keep the chaos outside from seeping in, especially when old feuds surface among the patients.

It is tempting to look at Hotel Artemis as a metaphor for the breakdown of modern society, as the civilised Jean and the kindly Everest can’t hold back the barbaric forces hammering on their gate. But that analysis would be glib. British writer-director Drew Pearce, in his feature debut, mainly enjoys playing around with his outré characters, and the film is intended to be fun, rather than a metaphor for our times – even if that fun does err on the dark and doomy side.

Death Wish review: Bruce Willis in sadistically violent thriller

Hotel Artemis opens on June 21

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