You can check out of Hotel Artemis any time you like, but you can’t exactly leave. So you might as well hang in for the 90-plus minutes of bloody B-movie thrills its starry, motley crew — including Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, and Sterling K. Brown — spend onscreen.
It’s 2028 in a riot-lit, drought-plagued Los Angeles, and Foster’s Nurse is the sole proprietor, concierge, and chief medical officer of the fortress-like Artemis — a members-only medical facility for the kind of criminals who can’t just roll into the emergency room when things get ugly, but can also afford to pay her considerable private fees.
As the movie opens, she’s nearly at full occupancy: There’s a tetchy arms dealer (Charlie Day) who might need a new cornea, a French assassin (Atomic Blonde‘s Sofia Boutella) with a self-inflicted bullet in her arm, and a panicked but unharmed man (two-time Emmy winner Brown) whose botched robbery has left his brother (Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry) with a badly perforated liver. Inside the Artemis walls, their exotic-getaway room themes are also their code names: Acapulco, Honolulu, Waikiki. (Bautista’s loyal orderly goes by Everest, but that’s just a reference to his alpine size).
There’s also an injured cop (Jenny Slate) lurking in the wings, and a local warlord with a fresh neck wound they call the Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum, looking as usual like he just ate the tastiest canary), who crashes in with his jittery son (Zachary Quinto) and attendant band of low-foreheaded henchmen.
Writer-director Drew Pearce must have done something right to get a cast like this to sign on for what is essentially a loving, highly stylized homage to the kind of camp apocalyptia John Carpenter used to make; the only thing missing here is an Ernest Borgnine cameo and Kurt Russell scowling in an eye patch.
And maybe, too, a thicker plot. Aside from a series of dappled flashbacks involving Nurse’s long-dead son, most of the story comes down to who will die first, and how. The best bits are in the (literal) execution, particularly Boutella’s bruising, acrobatic fight scenes. The rest is just midnight-movie guts and noise, forgettable but fun. B