Los Angeles, 2028. The titular hotel of ‘Hotel Artemis’ is not just a hotel but a front for a top- secret, members-only emergency room for criminals. Run by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) and her tank of an assistant, Everest (Dave Bautista), the day-to-day running of the hospital is assured by a strict set of rules. One night, a riot breaks out across the city, causing chaos and desperation. Those staying in the hotel on the night include an assassin, a thief, and an obnoxious arms dealer, who will come at odds more than once before the night is through. To make matters worse, the ‘Wolf King’ (Jeff Goldblum), who owns the Artemis and is the criminal kingpin of LA, is on his way to the hotel.
Full of excitement and intrigue from the get-go, ‘Hotel Artemis’ strikes one as a film that is trying hard to spark off its own series and/or franchise. While imperfect, the design of the world does manage to accomplish a ‘cool’ range of aesthetics, and one does feel compelled to see what comes next.
Foster is as fabulous as always in a role that feels tailor-made for her. Her efficient, all-knowing Nurse has the perfect companion, both visually and narratively, in the gentle giant Bautista, whose character is unrelenting in his loyalty to the Nurse. The other cast members include actors that are well on their way to becoming household names, like Sofia Boutella (‘Kingsman’, ‘Atomic Blonde’, ‘The Mummy [Tom cruise edition]’), Sterling K. Brown (‘This is Us’, ‘The Predator’ [upcoming]) and Jenny Slate (‘Obvious Child’, ‘Gifted’). ‘It’s Always Sunny’s Charlie Day and Zachary Quinto of ‘Star Trek’ renown are also excellent in their respective roles. Brown is a particular stand-out.
The film accomplishes a good balance between the threads of different characters and storylines, alternating between romance, family, rivalry, and crime. The design of the Hotel itself – full of reds and defunct décor, recalling the creepy hotels of horror movies like ‘The Shining’ – is impressive. Mind you, the trailer is deceptive. The world created here is not the Continental and this is no ‘John Wick’. ‘Hotel Artemis’ is better described as a thriller than an action movie, with suspense and intrigue building up into its action-filled finale.
The universe created by ‘Hotel Artemis’ has potential for expansion and here’s hoping it will be explored. After all, sequels and franchises have been inspired by far inferior films. Entertaining, with a succinct running length (94 minutes – hallelujah!) and excellent cast, this is an assured feature debut from writer-director Drew Pearce (with writing credits that include ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation’, this man knows what he’s doing).