When the cast was announced for Hotel Artemis, it was sure to be brilliant: Jodie Foster, Sterling Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, and Zachary Quinto. Those actors by themselves are a who's-who list of solid action performances and each also known to be able to push some solid intensity.
Then came the trailer where we find that Foster plays Nurse, the head resident doctor/surgeon/and warden of a hotel which serves criminals who have "subscribed" to be allowed in should they be injured – no questions asked. Once inside one of the primary rules is that patients may not fight with, damage, or kill the other patients. Of course things go south and the rules are not longer strictly obeyed. That was probably one of the easiest pitch meetings in the past half decade in Hollywood.
Now, the cast, is brilliant, and they are all awesome – Brown plays Waikiki (all of the patients are given the nickname of their assigned room to help with anonymity), who is running a bank heist with his brother when the cops show up and start shooting. The battle winds up severely wounding his brother and slightly wounding him, they make their way to the hotel and put themselves into it's sanctuary for some emergency repairs.
Then things start going akimbo when big-time mob boss, The Wolf King (played by Goldblum), arrives with his own injuries and some of the patients might not be so willing to follow the rules. With a flavor that would have generally reminded us of 2006's Smokin' Aces as a crazy tower-defense style thriller, there's something about Artemis that doesn't quite pan out. The performances are great from everyone involved, and there's nuances to each one that gives us the impression that none of these are just superficial cutouts, but rather individuals with pasts, ghosts, and their own ambitions. Unfortunately the action only hits on occasion, and the rest of the time the tension doesn't really build in a way that one would hope for.
The entire story is set in the near-future in the midst of water riots (that Los Angeles could have wide-spread water shortage riots is hardly any great stretch of imagination), however it's not really needed here. The story could have almost as easily been presented in the current day. There's a few times where extreme damage needs to be healed up with some nanotech, however it comes off overthought.
Hotel Artemis is enjoyable enough, and watching the cast do their thing is great, but it comes off as more of a character study than a desperate action film and that was a bit of a letdown. However still a solid watch, but do it for the people and not for the bullets. Then when they do start to fly you get it as the added bonus.