“Oh Mary, I’m in the deep waters, and it’s way over my head. Everyone thought I was smarter than to be this dead” – Lyrics from the song Topanga Canyon on his solo album “The Wolfking of LA”
As directorial debuts go, writer/director Drew Pearce’s Hotel Artemis is neither brilliant or bad. There’s a lot to like about it.
Set in mid 2028 in Los Angeles, the city is in chaos. The water supply has been privatized and the company that controls this precious resource is gouging the populace. They are rioting over their inability to get the water they need. At a bank, “Waikiki” (Sterling K. Brown – Black Panther) and his brother “Honolulu” (Bryan Tyree Henry – Person to Person) are robbing a bank along with “Buke” (Kenneth Choi – The Wolf of Wall Street) and “P22” (Josh Tillman). The bank is filled with gardeners, maids and others who toil for the very wealthy, carrying their valuables to the bank for their employers. So when the robbers are unable to get the branch manager to open the vault, they rob the people inside the bank. They run into cops. P22 is killed while Buke and Honolulu are seriously wounded.
You can’t take your brother and accomplice to an ordinary hospital when they’ve been shot. That leads to the cops and jail. Fortunately, Waikiki and Honolulu are subscribers to the Hotel Artemis. A hospital for criminals in the penthouse of an old building. It is run by “The Nurse” (Jodie Foster – Elysium) who is ably assisted by “Everest” (Dave Bautista – Spectre) who functions as orderly and protector.
Waikiki, Honolulu, Nice and so on are code names; matched to the rooms at the Hotel Artemis. “Nice” (Sofia Boutella – Atomic Blonde) is there to have a bullet wound repaired. She happens to be both world-class assassin and an old friend of Waikiki. “Acapulco” (Charlie Day – Pacific Rim) is arms dealer, a**hole and misogynist; and waiting for his flight out of there. There is one open room but “The Wolf King” (Jeff Goldblum – The Grand Budapest Hotel) is on his way in. He owns the Hotel Artemis and while the “rules” of the place don’t allow for reservations in advance; his son “Crosby Franklin” (Zachary Quinto – Star Trek Beyond) calls ahead and lets The Nurse know that she’d better be ready to take care of his father. The Nurse is a stickler for the rules and yet she’s going to break one to care for a wounded police officer (Jenny Slate – This Means War). Like everything else at this hotel, they are interconnected.
The Hotel Artemis itself is deceiving. The nicknames given to the patients match the motif of their rooms. The place looks run down but the healthcare is state of the art. The rules are interesting. You can’t bring in a gun. No killing the other patients. Members only. The Nurse’s relationship with The Wolf King is complicated and finally explained in the third act. The premise for this film is brilliant but was executed weakly. The characters become more interesting thanks to the labors of the company of actors on screen. It is definitely worth a viewing.