There’s a riot going on in Los Angeles as the people take to the streets in demonstration (although it’s pretty vague about what). Welcome to the year 2028, as seen through the eyes of the patients checking into Hotel Artemis. It’s a crumbling, run-down hospital available only to paid-up criminal members in need of quick repair or a little bit of R & R.
The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs the place, helped by her beefy “medical professional”, the appropriately named Everest (Dave Bautista). On this night of chaos, the guests include Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry), both bloodied-up after a botched bank job. Nice (Sofia Boutella) is prowling the hotel under false pretences and loud-mouth arms dealer, Acapulco (Charlie Day) takes the time to annoy everyone he speaks to.
By all accounts, that’s not a bad cast at all, and British director Drew Pearce makes his debut with something of a 90s throwback action thriller. The riot is inconsequential to the events that take place in the hotel, with Foster’s nurse serving as the central figure for a number of smaller subplots that develop later in the film.
There is plenty of style to be found in the dilapidated art-deco surroundings of the Hotel Artemis and characters who remain distinguished from each other through their wardrobe. The introduction is slickly done, setting up what is sure to become a heated crossfire once all the pieces are in position, but the story never gathers pace and the IV drip is needed sooner than expected.
Some of the keener eyed may recognise the similarities between Hotel Artemis and elements of John Wick. The Continental Hotel in Keanu Reeve’s film acts as a members-only hideout for criminals and there is a suspicious similarity between the two set-ups. There’s no way of knowing how consciously Pearce relied on John Wick for ‘inspiration’ but the parallels are hard to ignore.
Hotel Artemis also serves as the first major role in a feature film for Jodie Foster in almost five years having spent far more time behind the camera. Her nurse character is aged and rundown, scuttling around the hallways tending to broken bad guys, haunted by a personal tragedy. It’s a fact we are constantly reminded of to the point of distraction, and like everyone else around her, she remains too one note for it to matter.
Foster’s scenes with Goldblum are a delight, but all too brief, as his appearance is over pretty quickly. Boutella plays the killer-assassin-in-a-slinky-dress role once again, while Bautista gives a good account of himself as Foster’s selfless sidekick. Sterling K. Brown deserved a little more meat to chew on but makes the most out of slim pickings.
There’s a been-there-done-that feel to Hotel Artemis that is hard to shake off. While the film wasn’t expected to turn the action genre on its head, it’s a little too risk-free to have fun with. Your stay will only be 90 minutes long but you’ll be eager to check out come the end.
Hotel Artemis is released in cinemas on July 20th.