The movie is entertaining, with a relevant social/political context, but you can't help but feel it could have been more fun. Hotel Artemis feels like a looser, mouthier page in the John Wick-ipedia, in which well-set-up killers have strict codes and slick clubs. After an opening shoot-out, the movie takes quite a long time to get to the slam-bang action we all know is coming when a movie features Boutella as an assassin. Some of the interpersonal stuff works, especially the fond relationship between Foster and Bautista. But some doesn't, such as the lack of chemistry between Brown and Boutella, the ordinary-feeling storyline between Brown's character and his brother, and the lack of big-dealishness projected by Goldblum's Big Boss. The always-welcome Jenny Slate also drops in, but her segment feels more like a detour than a twist. These bits slow down the ride and reduce the tension.
In his directorial debut, Drew Pearce (co-writer of Iron Man 3) has taken pains to create a world outside the hotel that increases the stakes inside it: In chaotic 2028 L.A., citizens are ready to burn the city down over the privatization and deprivation of clean water. Even more of that intruding into the hotel's insular world would be welcome. But there is some sly commentary, such as one obnoxious character talking about escaping LA by flying "south to the wall" and the Nurse saying in another scene, "This is America, lady. Eighty-five percent of what I fix is bullet holes." There's snappy dialogue, as when the guy trying to seduce/strong-arm Boutella's assassin complains, "You're gonna give me a superior act?" and she coolly replies, "It's not an act." The sci-fi tech is fun, and when we finally get to see Bautista and Boutella unleashed, it's popcorn time. So Hotel Artemis definitely has plenty of positive elements -- they just feel separated at times by character stuff that doesn't truly fascinate. You'll definitely leave wanting much more of Boutella doing her thing. She's awesome. But who knows? The door is open to a sequel.