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"HOTEL ARTEMIS"
(2018) (Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action/Drama: An alcoholic, agoraphobic nurse of the near future tries to keep the peace and save the lives of various wounded people who arrive at her members only hotel for criminals.
PLOT:
It's 2028 and Jean Thomas, a.k.a. the Nurse (JODIE FOSTER), runs a members-only hotel/hospital for criminals in downtown Los Angeles. With riots breaking out following the private company that owns the city's water having turned off the taps, things are hopping at the Hotel Artemis where the hulking Everest (DAVE BAUTISTA) serves as Nurse's orderly, bodyguard and enforcer of the establishment's many rules.

Among those there is bank robber Waikiki (STERLING K. BROWN) who's arrived with his badly wounded addict brother, Honolulu (BRIAN TYREE HENRY). Contract killer Nice (SOFIA BOUTELLA) is also there and must contend with unwelcome advances from unsavory arms dealer Acapulco (CHARLIE DAY). And with Nurse having bent her own rules by bringing in her former neighbor, Morgan (JENNY SLATE), who's now a cop, things have become even tenser.

And that's because the crime boss who runs the city, Niagara, a.k.a. the Wolf King (JEFF GOLDBLUM), is arriving soon with his abrasive adult son, Crosby (ZACHARY QUINTO), and the rest of his armed goons. With all of them having their own agendas and her still affected by the death of her son years ago, Nurse tries to keep the peace and save the lives of her various patients.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
Our family doctor recently left the group practice where he worked for years and decided to go the concierge medical care route. We decided not to follow him simply due to the cost -- nearly $4,000 a year -- and the fact that all that would have done was give us access to him. All other insurance costs, co-pays and such would remain the same and since we don't have any huge or pressing medical needs at this moment in our lives it just didn't seem a smart investment.

Granted, if we ever become criminals and need a safe haven for medical care -- and if he decides to further niche down and only serve such patients -- we might realize we chose unwisely. I highly doubt that will come to fruition, but that's the general underlying gist of the action-drama "Hotel Artemis."

In it, Jodie Foster plays a nurse by title but she's otherwise the GP, surgeon and hospital administrator rolled into one in the titular establishment where criminals of any variety can get in, as long as they've paid their membership dues. And they can stay as long as they follow the rules, the first of which is not to kill any of the other patients.

In a way, that might sound like a variation of the Hotel Continental scenes in "John Wick" where criminals followed an honor code of sorts to behave themselves while inside said locale. I have no idea if writer/director Drew Pearce is ripping off that element, paying homage to it, or came up with the idea for this slightly set in the future pic long before Keanu Reeves stepped into that character's shoes and resultant movie. Whatever the case, it's an intriguing premise filled with plenty of potential, especially with the backdrop of a water crisis in downtown Los Angeles a decade from now where a private company owns the water and has recently turned off the taps, resulting in violent riots.

That water element never comes back into play after its early introduction, but another utility -- that related to power or the temporary lack thereof -- occasionally proves pivotal in how things play out in this 94-some minute offering. During that time, a small number of bad "guys" -- and one female contract killer -- arrive as the riots outside escalate, a curfew is put in place, and police are given the latitude to shoot anyone they see out on the streets.

Among them are two bank robber siblings (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) who got shot up following an abandoned bank job; the aforementioned assassin (Sofia Boutella); an arms dealer (Charlie Day); a crime boss (Jeff Goldblum) and his hot-headed adult son (Zachary Quinto); and the wild card of the bunch, a wounded cop (Jenny Slate). The nurse breaks her own rules and allows the latter in, what with the young woman having grown up near the health practitioner and knowing that woman's now deceased son. That death -- believed to be a drug overdose -- resulted in Foster's character taking to the bottle, losing her real nursing job, and stepping foot into the Artemis where she's worked for twenty-plus years.

With the help of her hulking orderly meets bodyguard meets rule enforcer (Dave Bautista), the nurse uses her high tech equipment to heal her wounded patients, but with the cop in the place, the crime boss just arriving and the assassin after someone in the hotel, it's a lit powder keg that's ready to blow at any moment. And the main body of action does finally arrive in the third act (with the best featuring Boutella doing her thing with sexy verve and steely panache), but those hoping the hotel similarities with "John Wick" would mean equal does of hard-hitting mayhem might feel a bit let down with the far more meager amount that's offered here.

Certain parts work fairly well, but as an overall effort it feels like something of a partially missed opportunity, what with all of the built-in potential and the terrific cast not being used to their fullest creative extent. So, "Hotel Artemis" ends up as something of a mixed bag for me. It's probably not what the doctor ordered for those seeking lots of kinetic action in a pseudo apocalypse in the making setting, but at least it won't cost you dearly to have access to it. "Hotel Artemis" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed June 6, 2018 / Posted June 8, 2018


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