By Jordan Peterson | @thefilmmajor
There is a lot going on inside the walls of the Hotel Artemis, as one might expect from a secret-not-so-secret hospital/hotel that exclusively caters to members of the criminal underworld. Unfortunately, none of it is as original or intriguing as the hotel itself.
The year is 2028 and Los Angeles is in a state of frenzy. Its outraged citizens have taken to the streets in riotous protest against the recent privatization of water resulting in rampant crimewaves and wildfires.
Meanwhile, behind the secured doors of the Hotel Artemis, Jodie Foster’s agoraphobic Nurse purposefully (and amusingly) shuffles room to room, listening to old tunes while tending to the wounds of the wealthy criminals who pay for her shady services as well as for the privilege of sanctuary inside the hotel’s hallowed halls.
If any of this is ringing a bell then you’ve probably seen at least one of the John Wick films. Yes, the Hotel Artemis is very reminiscent of the Continental, the hotel from the John Wick universe. Both cater to secret criminal underbellies and both have rules that all members must abide by during their stay.
Unlike the Continental, however, the mythology surrounding Hotel Artemis is not so clear. It’s supposedly a secret haven yet a bright “Hotel Artemis” neon sign glows brightly across the L.A. skyline for all to see. In fact at one point a cop from the Nurse’s past shows up at the hotel’s doorstep begging to be treated. How the cop knows about the Artemis or how she tracked down the Nurse is such a mystery that it baffles even the characters in the film.
So what type of lowlives pay for an Artemis membership? Well, there’s Sterling K. Brown’s Waikiki (each member is referred to only by the suite in which they’re staying in to protect their identity), a smooth-talking schemer who drags his dying brother (Brian Tyree Henry) to see the Nurse after a bank heist gone wrong. Soufia Boutella’s Nice, a cutthroat Bondian badass who “only kills important people.” Then there’s Charlie Day as Acapulco, a squealing arms dealer who fancies himself an important person and desperately wants everyone else to think so too.
Helping the Nurse maintain order around the Artemis is the multifaceted Everest (Dave Bautista), the orderly/maintenance guy/security guard/whatever else Jodie Foster’s character needs. Bautista is strong in the role and is given the funniest lines, which he nails in the manner of a street-smarter version of Drax the Destroyer.
Hotel Artemis mostly skates by on the unexpectedly pleasant chemistry of a talented and unique cast who all bring a spark of personality to the otherwise played out melodrama that ensues in the wake of their arrival.
At its core, though, this is Jodie Foster’s movie. The multiple Oscar-winner conveys a nuanced quirkiness and warmth through an otherwise generic character.