Hotel Artemis, The


Rule #1 – Don’t Kill the Other Patients

Main Cast: Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown

Director: Drew Pearce

I often wonder what Jodie Foster’s career would have been like if she hadn’t suffered such a massive trauma. She has such a wonderful presence on screen, and I wish she made more movies. She is the major reason I decided to see The Hotel Artemis.

The Hotel Artemis takes place in the near future and begins with a riot in Los Angeles after the privatized water system cuts off people who don’t, or can’t, pay. In the midst of the massive unrest, a robbery is taking place, but something goes wrong and there are injuries. The perpetrators head to The Hotel Artemis, where Nurse (Foster) waits for them, strict rules in place, at her hospital for criminals.

The movie spends it first act with the new arrival, nicknamed Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his interactions with the currently recovering guests. Waikiki’s brother, nicknamed Honolulu (Brian Tyree Henry) was badly injured and Waikiki is mostly waiting for him to be treated so he has a lot of free time for snooping. The first guests he runs into are Nice (Sofia Boutella) and Acapulco (Charlie Day). One he already knows, and she is a very talented assassin. The other he does not, but dislikes immediately, and appears to be nothing more than an ordinary thug emboldened by access to money.

Underlying the immediate crises is Nurse’s agoraphobia and the death of her son, the inner workings of the Artemis, and the imminent arrival of its founder, the very powerful Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum).  Plot elements begin to overlap and we see that there are a lot of connections that were not immediately apparent. Unraveling those secrets takes up the second and third acts.

I liked The Hotel Artemis. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. The premise itself is sort of intriguing – a secret hospital with paid membership for the criminally inclined. And the plot is also mildly intriguing, with its multiple layers. But what makes the movie worth seeing is the nuanced design of the hotel and its permanent residents, Nurse and her orderly, Everest (Dave Bautista). Foster shuffles from room to room in the maze-like structure that has clearly seen better days. She has sophisticated equipment but the surroundings feel dilapidated and run down after many years of standing through societal decay. She looks ancient, not aged but worn out and used up by her work and her grief. It’s a wonderful performance from Jodie Foster with some quite able back-up from Bautista. The rest of the plot feels draped around her and her hotel, a device to allow us to know her. I’m actually okay with that, though it fails to really make the most of those exceptional elements.

The supporting cast is fine, but none rise to Foster’s level. Quick appearances by Zachary Quinto and Jeff Goldblum are nice touches, but neither is much more than a cameo. The backdrop of a society in revolt is timely and quite subtle – the privatization of water is there but is not a main theme. Dropping the dilapidated hospital into a dystopian near future makes it feel even more isolated and out of time and place.

Overall, The Hotel Artemis is a decent way to spend a couple of hours. Jodie Foster is wonderful and the film is a treat to look at. The rather thin central plot is not offensive or filled with holes, and serves the stronger elements of the film satisfactorily. If you’re a Jodie Foster fan, it is definitely worth a watch.

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