The guy who co-wrote Iron Man 3 whips up a neat concept with Hotel Artemis, but mostly leaves it in the idea stage, getting some fun moments out of a game, recognizable cast and a whole bunch of tiresome noise that feels like it’s riffing on far better movies.
It all takes place on a Wednesday featuring violent L.A. riots over shut off water. With that happening off to the side and constantly affecting character decisions, the crew of Randall Pearson, Paper Boi, Father John Misty (no shit!) and Judge Ito get tuned up on a heist and call on the services of the titular establishment, a secret ER for criminals run by a quippy, New Yawk-y Clarice Starling.
The place gives off some appealing John Wick lodging vibes with its rules, procedures and clientele, but with the twist of high-tech medical equipment, like in Prometheus but not that advanced.
Clarice gets support from a slightly quippy Drax, and they’ve already helped the new Mummy and Charlie Kelly, but one’s up to something and the other is crazy enough to bring the whole place down — a dynamic that works for a while.
Complicating matters is the pending arrival of the top crime boss, heralded by an annoying but still pretty threatening new Spock and preceded by a mostly pointless visit from Mona-Lisa Saperstein, a cop who isn’t supposed to be there but knew Clarice’s dead son, so it’s cool.
The proceedings already handicapped by a poor sense of the Artemis’ space and some first-draft jokes and would-be badass lines, we get maybe five minutes with Ian Malcolm as the aforementioned boss, after which violence inside the hotel finally erupts, brining to mind Free Fire and Smokin’ Aces, but mostly creating a desire to watch those titles instead.
Once the bodies and gags that land are counted, the question of why so many talented folks were attracted to the material hangs over the compromised scene, but like a lot of movies that have a few redeeming elements, it’ll all be soon forgotten, reduced to a “I think I remember that” one each’s IMDb page.
Grade: C-plus. Rated R. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Global Road Entertainment)