Every now and then a film comes along that cuts off all the extraneous elements to present a tight and enjoyable ride that may not tax the mind but is perfect for an entertaining evening with friends.
In horror you can see this, arguably, with Halloween and certainly with later slasher fair, in action it began with Die Hard and more recently arguably peaked with John Wick. With similarities to the latter with an added dash of gangster, steampunk and sci-fi we get Hotel Artemis from writer/director Drew Pearce.
Beginning with a bungled bank raid in the midst of a city-wide riot in Los Angeles in 2028, the scene is set pretty clearly from the get go as we are dropped into the outlaw gangland of a world in the verge of collapse.
With our sort of hero (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother injured in the raid they head to the titular hotel, a kind of hospital and refuge located in the penthouse of a vintage hotel in downtown LA, and from there the fairly predictable story unfolds.
At the hotel are a small collection of fairly stereotypical underworld characters along with the slightly more nuanced head nurse (Jodie Foster, in an unlikely piece of casting) and her orderly (a far more typically cast Dave Bautista, once again showing he gets how this action movie thing works).
As the chaos of the riots outside is reflected in the action inside we get a few well handled set pieces, probably the highlight of which is reminiscent of a few from Netflix and Marvel’s recently collaborations with a fight in a narrow corridor.
As well as Foster a highlight performance comes from a brief appearance by Jeff Goldblum, continuing his recent run of fairly knowing cameos where he seems to be playing a heightened version of himself but here with the addition of a nice villainous streak.
While I’m not sure Hotel Artemis will set the world on fire, in a world of often overblown and bloated action films, particular in the comic book field, this takes a lot of the tropes of those and presents something that’s enjoyable, exciting and fun.
I’m sure some would have taken it and added extras in to expand its vision, but for me it’s the simplicity and brevity that makes it a fun and entertaining distraction and a great way to spend an evening, if little more.