Jodie Foster Sterling K. Brown Sofia Boutella Jeff Goldblum
Jenny Slate Dave Bautista Charlie Day Brian Tyree Henry
There is no honor among thieves—true most of the time. But that adage is disproven now and again in Hotel Artemis. The hotel was created as a gesture of honor years before 2028 when this story takes place, one among many interesting twists in the narrative about a kind of hospital for wounded criminals, administered by The Nurse (Foster). Riots about the shortages of water are flaming in Los Angeles, which makes the hospital very busy. But a few clear-cut rules have been designed to establish order, e.g., only paid members admitted, no cops admitted, no weapons allowed, no serial killers or pedophiles admitted, no real names used, etc. Each person is called by the name of his/her room, e.g., Waikiki, Honolulu, Acapulco, Nice. (One of the clever little features that elicits a smile from us.) Nurse runs a tight ship aided by her trusted Everest (Bautista), who towers above everyone else, is completely devoted to his job and to Nurse, and is handy in managing the electrical generators and being a bouncer when called upon.
On a particular Wednesday night during the riots, only one room is vacant when Nurse is handed a dilemma that will cause her to break one of her own rules, and coincidentally, other infractions happen for various reasons, and then suddenly a call comes from the owner of the establishment needing to be admitted. This happens to be Wolf King (Goldblum), crime boss of the city. Beyond the main events, sub-plots are interwoven involving activist Waikiki (Brown) and his brother Honolulu (Henry), the assassin Nice (Boutella) and her fluctuating relationships with Waikiki and Acapulco (Day), a loud-mouth American full of bluster and entitlement, and a mysterious patient (Morgan) with a significant past connection to Nurse.
Drew Pearce, writer/director, and his team have produced an unusual take on a crime story with elements of mystery, suspense, and intrigue; colorful but entirely believable, complicated characters (the most complex being Foster’s “Nurse”); Cliff Martinez’s expressive score; Chung-Hoon Chung’s guiding cinematography; and all the others involved in making the film a work of art. And we must not omit the many, many modes of humor and plain laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled in here and there. Quotable quotes run rife. “You work with what you got; not what you hoped for.” [My dad] lives in Florida; life took him out already.” “They bought your death; don’t give them your dignity for free.” And finally, “Getting out is always tougher than getting in.”
This is likely to be another star in Jodie Foster’s star-studded acting crown, easily measuring up to a host of award-winning performances in Silence of the Lambs, The Accused, Taxi Driver, and Contact—just to name a few. It was personally gratifying to see her physical appearance reflecting her life of grief and servitude rather than her being “prettied up.” Gray-haired and wrinkled, and relying on inspirational tapes to manage her anxiety, asthma, and other maladies, Foster delivers on-point perfection in giving us an in-depth look at her character with a significant past.
Also notable are Sofia Boutella (always mesmerizing), Sterling K. Brown as an honorable “criminal” loyal to his brother to a fault, Dave Bautista as a bouncer with a heart, Charlie Day as an American stereotype who talks too loudly and too much, and Jeff Goldblum as an astute crime boss who’s disappointed in his youngest son for being too soft.
Hotel Artemis: A place like you’ve never seen before, with goings on that thrill, chill, pull the strings of your heart, and make you chuckle.