Noir gone wrong

The future is grim, that much we know already with the current state of affairs around the world. But in Drew Pearce’s directorial debut,
Hotel Artemis
, what we have to look forward to isn’t pretty at all. In 2028 Los Angeles, riots have broken out over the scarcity of water. The film starts out as any heist blockbuster, with slick thieves and an ominous voice-over regaling us with pearls of wisdom. But then Pearce attempts a difficult task. From the futuristic glossy environs of dystopian LA, we are transported to the musty art deco walls of an ancient health care facility known as
Hotel Artemis
. During the course of a single night, secrets are revealed, LA’s underbelly is exposed and plenty of blood is shed. At the centre of it all is Nurse (Jodie Foster) an agoraphobic healthcare worker administering medical aid to her criminal patients. As the exacting but compassionate protagonist Foster unravels the film’s flimsy and often un-engaging plot.

For what it’s worth, Pearce makes a mean looking visually enchanting spectacle of
Hotel Artemis
. The noir tone is ripe, from nifty camerawork to the witty often cocky repartee between characters.

The action, albeit sporadic until the climactic bawl, is certainly exciting. But its impact is far too minuscule to elevate the emaciated narrative.

None of the characters seem remotely appealing enough to be invested in. Take Nurse and her what-should-have-been-emotional backstory. There’s Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown), as plain as a do-goody criminal can be. Nice’s (Sofia Boutella) femme fatale fierceness never impresses. Acapulco’s (Charlie Day) ego-maniacal traits won’t rile anyone up. Even Wolf King’s (Jeff Goldblum) arrogance is underwhelming. Pearce assembles a formidable cast, with Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, Dave Bautista and other big names rounding off the roster. But it amounts to very little when all you have is a very good looking film without any heft.

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