Los Angeles, 2028. The
thin fabric of gentility which holds us all together has completely torn
asunder. It's rioting and
looting and chaos. Drones are
everywhere, but their purpose is malevolent, spying out soft targets.
Water is scarce. Electricity
is intermittent. The police
are constantly besieged, and increasingly outgunned and outmanned.
Society has broken down into warring gangs, with the government in
hiding. Fear is a constant presence. So
In the midst of this inferno of hate with no save haven, there is
an out-of-the way structure off an alleyway called the Hotel Artemis.
Its proprietor is “The Nurse” (Jodie Foster), who provides a
rare clandestine service: an
ER for criminals. But there
are strict rules. Members only
(and they must pass the hand scan to be admitted).
No guns. No cops.
And no killing other patients:
a “safe zone” for wounded bandits.
And once you're in, you're taken care of in safety and privacy.
The Nurse has all the latest medical technology, including robotic
assistants. She can operate.
(She used to be a doctor.) She
can dispense drugs (don't ask where she got them).
If anybody won't adhere to her rules, they're out, and she has an
enforcer, Everest (Dave Bautista) to insure that the rules are kept.
But there are cracks in the emotional infrastructure of Hotel
Artemis, as well. We discover
that The Nurse is still suffering from the loss of her only son to a drug
overdose. Though she spends
her time as an angel of mercy for those who need emergency care, she's
acerbic and aloof, can't stand compliments, and seeks solace by being
alone and listening to old music (like “California Dreamin' by The
Mommas and the Poppas, an ironic choice in more ways than one).
Things are usually hectic and grimy around the Hotel Artemis
(sometimes The Nurse will just turn a bloody pillow over and continue to
use it), but one night it gets particularly rowdy.
The riots are outside their very doors.
A dangerously attractive woman (Sofia Boutella) checks in the
“Nice” suite with a flesh wound, but under false pretenses.
A former neighbor of The Nurse begs her for admittance, except
she's a wounded cop. And The
Nurse has never broken her own rules.
And then the real proprietor of the place, a mobster denizen (Jeff
Goldblum), shows up wounded, but with an armed gang to “protect” him,
also against the rules.
But in the midst of all this cold-blooded savagery there's some
touching tenderness. A man who
checks into the Waikiki suite (Sterling K. Brown) just led a failed heist,
but is more concerned about his dying brother than his own wounds.
This Waikiki man also has an obvious connection with the mysterious
woman in the Nice suite, though the trash-talking hoodlum in the Acapulco
suite (Charlie Day) is oblivious to the mortal danger of either.
It feels like a Purgatory from which there is no escape, but if you
look hard enough, you can find little redemptions, like in the way you
treat a stranger, and in the way you choose to conduct yourself with quiet
dignity, even through the pain of your horrific regrets.
Yes, “Hotel Artemis” is gritty and violent.
But it has some soul within a heartless and unforgiving place.
Which is just enough humanity to leave us with a little of that rare and
precious commodity: hope.