Jodie Foster

Hotel Artemis

25/07/18

Set in a dystopian, near future Los Angeles… boy, if only I had a tenner for every time I’ve started a review with that line… there exists a secret location that’s kind of like BUPA for criminals. Basically, bad people become members, they pay their dues every month and, when they find themselves all shot up and in urgent need of medical attention, this is where they come to recuperate. The joint is run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster), once a valued member of the caring profession, now a hopeless alcoholic with a penchant for repairing the trickiest of wounds. You need a new liver? No problem! She has a 3D printer that can make you one! She’s ably assisted by Everest (Dave Bautista), a veritable man-mountain who’ll do anything for her but, she’s not a happy bunny,  haunted by something bad in her past, something we occasionally catch unsettling glimpses of.

Into this pressure cooker setting comes Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother, Honolulu (Bryan Tyree Henry), who – after a bank job has gone belly-up – are badly wounded and struggling to survive. (In case you’re wondering about those names, characters are called after the holiday-themed rooms in which they are installed.)

But things are more complicated than usual. A problem with LA’s biggest water supplier has kicked off violent riots on the streets, so even getting across town is problematic. Once safely in the building, Waikiki meets up with his ‘friend,’ Nice (Sofia Boutella), an assassin who makes her living from bumping off VIPs, sharing the kill with her employers via a camera embedded in her head. Well, we’ve all got to earn a living, right?

And then, in comes The Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum), who, as the name might suggest, is LA’s most powerful gangster and also, it turns out, the man who set up the Hotel Artemis in the first place. So nobody is going to keep him out, right? Problem is, for a very important reason, he’s the last person that Waikiki and Honolulu want to meet up with…

Writer/director Drew Pearce’s futuristic film is an assured and intriguing piece of cinema. It may have all the trappings of a sci-fi movie, but it’s much more about the characters and the way they interact with each other. The complex storyline generates plenty of tension and there are  some fine performances from an ensemble cast. Foster is particularly good, submitting a brilliant character study in the lead role that makes me wish she’d act in more films. The setting too, with each room styled around a different theme, is memorable. Perhaps inevitably, in the final reel, events descend into violence, but this too is well-handled and doesn’t outstay its welcome. More sensitive viewers may wish to glance away from the screen at key moments.

So, that’s the Hotel Artemis. Well worth booking into for a short and occasionally enthralling city break. Just don’t expect to come out in one piece.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

Money Monster

MoneyMonster

03/06/16

Some actors are happy to stay on their side of the lens and some, like Jodie Foster, occasionally like to swap positions and try their hands at directing. She’s done a pretty decent job of it here. Money Monster tells the story of Lee Gates (George Clooney) a cheesy corporate TV presenter who finds himself in jeopardy when ordinary Joe, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’ Connell) loses pretty much everything he owns on one of Lee’s ‘surefire’ investment tips and invades the studio with a gun and a belt stuffed with Semtex, intent on finding answers to some rather difficult questions. It’s left to Lee’s seasoned producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) to talk her team through the resulting ordeal and to try to ensure that nobody gets killed in the process. In an attempt to preserve his own skin, Lee starts asking timely questions about how an investment  company called Ibis, could possibly have lost its investors $800,000,000  in one day. The answers all seem to lead towards the company’s head honcho, Walt Camby (Dominic West) and some dodgy dealings in South Africa…

Money Monster is a taut little thriller that asks some pertinent questions about the world of share dealing,  though perhaps it never delves quite as deeply into the subject as it might have. Still, it cooks up a fine head of steam as a straight ahead thriller and there’s plenty of good performances here – this might be Roberts’ best showing in quite a while. Rising star, O ‘Connell acquits himself well and gorgeous George handles his role with consummate ease. It’s not in the league of say, Dog Day Afternoon, but then, few films are and this makes for a decent hour and a half of entertainment.

The earth won’t move but if you’re looking to distract yourself, this is a decent investment.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney