Here's a bit of wisdom that I suspect Drew Pearce, the writer/director of stylish action drama Hotel Artemis, gleaned while making his film: If you have very little time reserved for emotionally resonant moments, put Jodie Foster in extreme closeup and let her emote however she wants. Pearce stacks his near-future dystopian story about a hospital for criminals with an all-star cast — Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Sofia Boutella, Brian Tyree Henry, etc. But only Foster, playing the broken-down nurse who runs the hospital, gets the space to sort out her character's feelings onscreen, despite Pearce having written potentially heart-tugging storylines for all characters. As good as Foster is as Jean Thomas/The Nurse, she can't completely bring Hotel Artemis to life herself, because she's not technically the lead.
A surface-level comparison for Hotel Artemis might be John Wick; it's almost as though that no-violence-on-the-premises criminals club had been turned into a hospital, with an ensemble cast instead of a singular protagonist. But while John Wick is all action, no talk, Artemis is the polar opposite, Pearce stretching out the will-they-won't-they (kill each other) tension as long as possible, until every violent criminal is trapped in this hotel.
But just when I began digging a character, like Bautista's grumpy orderly Everest, the restless Pearce darts over to the next well-dressed thug with zinging dialogue, just to keep all the balls up in the air. Whether it's the too-harried pacing or too many central people vying for attention, the film's heart never quite coalesces. Seizing it is like trying to grab a cloud.
... While John Wick is all action, no talk, Artemis is the polar opposite, Pearce stretching out the will-they-won’t-they (kill each other) tension as long as possible, until every violent criminal is trapped in this hotel
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