|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
dir-scr Drew Pearce
prd Simon Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell, Marc Platt, Adam Siegel
with Jodie Foster, Sterling K Brown, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, Brian Tyree Henry, Kenneth Choi, Josh Tillman, Evan Jones
release US 8.Jun.18, UK 20.Jul.18
Members only: Goldblum, Quinto and Foster, plus goons
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Like a spin-off from the John Wick franchise, this fantastical action thriller centres on a criminal underworld hotel, this time in Los Angeles. It's stylish and energetic, packed with cool cinematic touches and lively characters, expertly anchored by the always riveting Jodie Foster. But even though the script plays with some big themes, in the end there's not much to it.
It's 2028 and the city is engulfed in riots after the private contractor cuts off its water supply. This leaves a bank robber (Brown) and his brother (Henry) stranded and injured, so they head to Hotel Artemis, where membership guarantees discreet medical care from Nurse (Foster) and her intimidating orderly Everest (Bautista). Other patients include a hot assassin (Boutella) and a noisy goon (Day). Then two arrivals show up in breach of strict rules: a young cop (Slate) with a connection to Nurse and the hotel's owner (Goldblum) accompanied by his hothead son (Quinto).
The film has a kind of steampunk style, with whizzy futuristic technology alongside clanky mechanics. And the faded-glory design of the themed hotel rooms is enjoyably grimy. But it's the character at the centre who most surely holds the attention: Foster is a bundle of tics, preoccupied with her thoughts but never missing anything that's happening around her. It's an instantly engaging characterisation, with her pinched face and small stride. And every time someone calls her an "old lady" we want to shout in protest.
Even if no one holds a candle to her, each character is vivid. Bautista finds some surprising tenderness as her musclehead sidekick. As usual, Goldblum is on scene-stealing form, relishing his pithy dialog, especially in the face of Quinto's vein-popping bully. Brown offers some soulful edginess as a man worn-down by the responsibility he feels to his little brother. Boutella is enjoyably efficient as a killer with little patience for idiots. And Day is almost too believable as a flustered, shouting idiot.
Along the way thereare nods to current events, such as the disastrous privatisation of LA's water supply or the heavy hand of corrupt police. There's even a clever Trump gag for those who can read Cyrillic script. But these have even less impact than the hotel's peeling wallpaper, which leaves the film as a compelling drama about a woman who has been in a prison she built herself 22 years ago. This is moving and involving, but it could have been much more resonant.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.|
© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK