It is 21st of June 2028 and Los Angeles has become a battleground of warring gangs and the authorities trying to keep them contained, but one building in what is effectively a warzone is a haven for the criminals - assuming they have an account with it. This place is the Hotel Artemis, and it is not strictly a hotel, it is a hospital where the injured gang members can stay to get patched up, usually thanks to their bullet wounds. There are two staff, for it is a fairly exclusive establishment, the nurse (Jodie Foster) and her orderly Everest (Dave Bautista) who also acts as her security, and tonight they are about to be called on three bank robbers who met the barrels of guns...
Hotel Artemis was compared to the action series John Wick, but not because of its action sequences, it was because it was set in a location where gangsters went for a little rest and relaxation without fear of getting bumped off, much like the hotel in the Keanu Reeves movies. Aside from that, the similarities were spurious at best, for these were different beasts, yes, there was action here, but writer and director Drew Pearce seemed more captivated in letting his cast chat with each other, which did not exactly make for riveting cinema. So what did it make? It made an overqualified cast constantly appear to be on the brink of creating something special, yet they never achieved that.
All the pieces were in place for a stylish crime thriller with a futuristic setting, not to say an apocalyptic one where the tensions of America in the twenty-tens had erupted into tearing the fabric of its society apart, a very potent premise. Why was it, then, that Pearce took his promise and proceeded to do the barest minimum with it? This could have been a highly effective satire on the era it was made (rather than set), but he didn't want to go that route. Fine, how about a ripsnorting action movie - Dave Bautista was present, looking as pumped up as ever, so how about using his skills to the production's advantage? However, Pearce was not enamoured of that idea either.
What you got was a meandering, footling drama with occasional bursts of violence to keep the audience awake (or jolt them awake, anyway), where a collection of excellent performers had precisely nothing very much to do. Foster was dowdy and Bautista was a hulk with a heart of gold, and they had a rapport that was frustratingly never built upon, we were simply invited to take their curious relationship for granted and that was the problem with the whole affair. Sure, Jeff Goldblum was the city's meanest gangster and on his way to the Artemis, but despite the fanfare, when he arrived with permanently angry son Zachary Quinto in tow, they talked a good talk (to an extent, anyway), but were given the barest minimum to keep us engaged, and it just was not enough, not with these talents.
Sofia Boutella was also present, as an assassin, notching up yet another movie where her intriguing presence and lithe physicality were squandered on middling material: she had an action setpiece late on in the story, but by that point you were wondering why her character was sticking around. Jenny Slate was an injured cop who the Nurse goes against her code to treat - yet so what? She had little to no influence on what else happened. When the medical practitioner had flashbacks to her lost son, they had the least impact imaginable no matter that they were intended to define her personality. When Brian Tyree Henry, having a great year, was left on an operating table for most of his barely there appearance, you knew Pearce needed to give his script a lot more polish since he was squandering this wealth of potential on a strained mumble of an experience. Even so, it wasn't a terrible film, it just sat there, being mediocre and draining from your memory banks as you watched it. You did start to consider it may not have been the movie everyone wanted to make. Music by Cliff Martinez.