Technically, Hotel Artemis is a “dystopian neo-noir crime film”. In a summer filled with reboots and sequels, it is an original story with that wants to be a slick crime action thriller.
The story picks up in Los Angeles in 2028 during a “water riot”. Apparently, the water supply has been privatized, and the company that owns it has turned it off. Desperate, the people have started to riot through the city, picking up steam and power until they will arrive at the building of the water company. The Hotel Artemis is a secret hospital for criminals that is run by Nurse Jean Thomas with the assistance of Everest. It seems that the Artemis is one in a series of secret hotels like this – in which criminal sbuy membership so that when they are hurt during a ‘job’, they can go to the Artemis for assistance with no questions asked.
As the riots move through the city, two brothers injured in a bank robbery head to the Artemis, but not before one of them grabbed what seemed to be a fancy pen from a man preparing to deposit it in the bank. They head to the Artemis to get treatment, where members are given code names based on the room they are staying in. The brothers are Waikiki and Honolulu. Honolulu needs a new liver, and the Nurse prints one on a 3D printer, and gets it installed. Waikiki has to wait for the integration to finish up before moving on. Also in the hotel are Nice – a deadly assassin who seems to share a past with Waikiki; and Acapulco, a really annoying Charlie Day-type arms dealer. Nice seems to have ulterior motives, but she does let Waikiki know that the fancy pen his brother stole is actually a portable vault containing diamonds owned by the “Wolf King”, the crime lord boss of Los Angeles, and the owner of the Artemis. The thing is, once you steal from the Wolf King, he drowns you in the ocean.
Sure enough, the riots get closer and more dangerous, and the Wolf King is on his way to the Artemis, having been wounded. An injured cop starts banging on the door to be let in for help. Waikiki is wondering how to get his brother out instead of drowned, Nice is putting a plan together, Acapulco seems to be there to irritate everyone, the Nurse has to deal with some residual trauma from losing her son years ago, and Everest is just trying to keep things together and keep everyone following the rules. The Artemis may not make it through the night.
The story is slick and unique with some really great potential. The tone is a little uneven here and there because the movie wants to be an over-the-top action thriller with an almost 'graphic-novel' stylization to it but some pieces don't quite fit that idea. There are a couple of things that are set up, but that are not delivered on, and are never brought back. Written and directed by Drew Pearce, this is his feature directing debut. He does a good job with the action and the characters are all interesting. Once the large final action piece starts up, the last half hour of the movie is massive fights and action set pieces. The cast is the strongest part of the movie.
- Jodie Foster stars as the Nurse, and honestly, I could have used a little less of her in the movie. I can't tell if that's because I don't like Jodie Foster or I didn't like this character. Also, not entirely sure why she's aged up. She could have just looked like she normally does. I know it’s about her struggling to overcome her crippling agoraphobia that kicked in when her son died, but she seems to be playing the role far more somber than everyone else in the movie. Everyone else seems to embrace how the movie teeters right on the edge of silly, and she avoids that - which does work for the character, so I suppose it's a good choice on her part.
- Dave Bautista plays Everest, and gets some of the best lines in the movie as he struggles to keep everyone in line with the rules but also get the Nurse what she needs.
- Sterling K. Brown is really charismatic as Waikiki, a man trapped in a life of crime due to his love for his brother. He manages to be incredibly likeable, as well as a capable lead for the movie. Brian Tyree Henry seems to be everywhere these days and here he plays Honolulu, a criminal who just keeps bringing his brother down.
- Sofia Boutella plays Nice, and once she kicks her plan into gear, she is almost unstoppable. She is really good at this type of role, and she’s getting better at the slow parts.
- Jeff Goldblum plays the Wolf King, who is really just Jeff Goldblum running a crime syndicate. He’s very entertaining while dealing with both his underlings and the Nurse. He also manages to have just the right amount of creepy undertones as someone who is used to getting their way.
- Jenny Slate plays the cop, Morgan, who suddenly shows up at the door asking for Mrs. Thomas. Her role has little to do with the story, but much to do with the Nurse’s character development.
- Zachary Quinto plays Crosby, the wolf king’s son. He’s belligerent and intolerable, just wanting to impress his father.
- Charlie Day plays Acapulco, and he’s completely irritating in this movie – harassing Nice and trying to pick a fight with Waikiki, then demanding a helicopter to get out of the hotel.
Overall, the movie is fun, action packed, and entertaining. Some of the backstory is a little heavy-handed, but overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely ends with the possibility of a sequel, set at the Hotel Apache in Las Vegas – one can only assume it has the same type of setup.
6 out of 10 – entertaining enough. Gained points for Dave Bautista being an awesome “health care professional”.
Bonus – every time someone referred to Charlie Day’s character, I couldn’t help but think of Acapulco Heat.