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Movie Review

Everyone could use access to good, quality healthcare. Even villains. Especially the villains, maybe. Who else, after all, would have need of a bullet perforation patch? Who else would be more likely to require emergency concrete galosh removal?

And while today's emergency rooms can patch the typical ne'er-do-well up decently enough, a really good bad-guy doctor is pretty tough to come by in Los Angeles, circa 2028. Why, not even Hotel Artemis has a doctor on call. What it does have is a whale of a nurse, an organ-printing machine and a whole lot of drugs.

The Artemis wasn't always a hospital for crooks, murderers and gang lords, mind you. It began its professional life as a swanky downtown stayover for the rich and famous in Hollywood's heyday—filled with high ceilings, velvet couches and decadent decor. Each palatial suite came unique: The Niagara Suite features a mural of a waterfall, the Honolulu is embellished with a sprawling beach picture dotted by palm trees.

But alas, Hollywood's golden age gave way to a time of iron and clay, and the Artemis only echoes with its former glory. The throw pillows sport a few blood stains here and there. And when a "guest" mentions that it smells like someone died in the room, the woman known only as Nurse says someone did.

Still, even a hospital for the hostile has to have rules. Given its curious clientele, it's the only way the Artemis can function. Killing the other guests is strictly forbidden, for one. No weapons are allowed. Every "guest" is called, simply, by the name of his or her suite (Waikiki, Acapulco, etc.), which helps preserve anonymity.

Oh, and while you don't need to be an absolute cad to be a member—almost anyone can get expert medical service if they have a membership—police officers are not on the welcome list. No sir. They'll have to go to the good-guy hospital down the street, I guess.

But you know the cliché: Rules are meant to be broken, and the Artemis caters to professional rule-breakers.

One Wednesday night—as riots rage outside—the Artemis hosts an arms dealer who needs a new eye. An assassin nursing a bullet wound. A couple of bank-robbing brothers, one of whom could sure use a new liver. The Artemis is plumb full up, folks. Only so many colorful suites and 3D-printed organs to go around.

But then two more would-be guests come knocking: The first, a community liaison cop who turns out to be Nurse's old family friend. The second, the notorious Wolfking of Los Angeles, the kingpin who owns half the city—including the Artemis.

The Artemis runs on rules, but on this night, a few will be broken. And most of its patients might be in far worse shape after their stay than when they came in.

Positive Elements

Let's begin with Nurse, the no-nonsense caregiver to those who rarely care to give. She didn't always patch up bad guys: She once ran a more traditional tough-luck clinic for the unfortunate poor until a family tragedy pushed her in a different direction. But she still takes the art of healing seriously. "There are plenty of folks to patch up the good guys," she reasons. The willingness to serve the undeserved mirrors many a sacrificial health professional—and, frankly, echoes a bit with a Christian charitable ethos, as well.

Not all who come to her are completely bad, either. Take Waikiki, one of the bank-robbing brothers. We don't hear much of his backstory, but we do learn he tried to go straight a time or two. But his unrepentant, screw-up brother (Honolulu) either was unwilling or unable to leave a life of villainy. And Waikiki, in his desire to protect him, kept slipping back to the dark side. "You work with what you've got," he tells Nurse, "not what you hoped for."

Nurse breaks one of Artemis' most unbreakable rules to pull in and help the police officer Morgan. Her orderly, appropriately codenamed Everest, is appalled by Nurse's generosity, but he acquiesces. And when the evening starts to degenerate into life-threatening chaos, he puts his own life on the line to save her. "You always helped everyone," he says. "Let me help you."

He's not alone standing in the breech to save someone else. Even bad guys can do good deeds now and again.

Spiritual Content

The hotel takes its name from Artemis, the Greek goddess of both the moon and the hunt.

When a gang of bad guys aligned with L.A.'s fearsome Wolfking come across some unconscious riot police officers, the leader tells his associate to kill them—just in case. When the associate balks, the leader says, "You want to get into heaven? Or you want to make the Wolfking happy?" When the Wolfking lands at the Artemis, he tells Nurse that she made a "deal with the devil."

Sexual Content

Nice, an assassin named after that French city, walks through the Artemis in a cleavage-baring, thigh-exposing, curve-accentuating evening gown. She's been paid to kill someone at the Artemis, and she'll be recording and streaming the murder (with a device placed in her eye) which her client will watch while engaged in a sexual activity. She also tenderly kisses Waikiki.

Acapulco, an arms dealer, ogles Nice. When she tells him that he's saying her codename wrong, he tells her that he was just describing her rear. He also painfully flirts with her and suggests the two have chemistry. Nurse treats him for an injury to his face—remarking that, judging by the pink nail polish she found in the wounds, he's paying her for her "discretion."

Nurse is a lesbian, and she reminisces about a trampoline-using next-door neighbor (and how the trampoline use accentuated her female attributes). She was married three times—once to a guy and twice more to women, but she admits that no one's flirted with her (male or female) since sometime in the 1980s.

Violent Content

As much as Nurse tries to patch folks up in Hotel Artemis, the hospital's guests and interlopers do their best to keep her overcommitted.

A man has his throat bloodily cut. Another man is killed via 3D printer, which smashes and pierces the man's skull. (We see both the death blow and the victim's leg and foot twitch in the aftermath.) Someone is killed after being violently injected with painkiller meant for "baby elephants," and another goes into fatal cardiac arrest. Several people are slaughtered in a frenetic hallway battle, dispatched via scalpel cuts to their bodies and blows to their heads. Others are taken out with a fire ax. In several flashbacks, we see a dead body lying underneath a pier.

Guns, most of which were apparently "printed" at Hotel Artemis, are brandished and fired. Some of those bullets hit victims in the chest, abdomen or leg. Nice admits that she shot herself to get into the Artemis, and we see Nurse patching her up. Nurse inserts needles and other apparent healing apparatuses into gaping, bloody wounds. (While the medical technology in 2028 has advanced significantly, the process is obviously painful, especially when so few receive any sort of painkiller.) A woman lies, seriously wounded, outside the hospital: She retains several bloody marks on her face for the rest of the film.

Someone has a nose painfully broken on a rail. An explosion rips through part of the Artemis. Someone tries to strangle Everest with a cord: Everest almost nonchalantly brushes him off and throws him into a concrete bridge support.

The film's story takes place during some frenetic rioting, and news reporters say the rampage is the most violent in the city's history. We see a bit of the rioting: Police are pushed back, pushed over and nearly trampled. Three others are beaten up and knocked out in an alley. We see explosions around the city and view violent footage on the age's equivalent of television. Floors and walls are streaked with blood. We hear that Nurse's son died from a drug overdose and that the Wolfking always drowns people who steal from him.

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly 100 f-words, about 35 s-words and one or two uses (or near uses) of the c-word. We also hear "a--," "b--ch," "d--n" and "pr--k." "G-dd--n" is spit out half a dozen times along with about four abuses of Jesus' name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Waikiki's brother, Honolulu, apparently does drugs. Nurse shows Waikiki the needle marks in the webbed clefts between his fingers and tells him that healing his liver is all the more difficult because of the "toxins" there. Waikiki laments the discovery, telling Nurse that his brother swore to him that he quit. Honolulu, in serious pain after his liver "transplant," self-medicates with a bit of pain-killer.

Drugs are everywhere in this hospital/hotel, though. Nurse dutifully puts some plastic vials of drugs in each guest room. And when someone complains that he's in pain, Nurse suggests that he help himself to some morphine. Nurse self-medicates as well—though her drug of choice is booze. She totes around a bottle of whiskey, occasionally drinking from it, and we're told that in the aftermath of her son's death, she almost drank herself to oblivion.

Someone smokes as well.

Other Negative Elements

We see Waikiki, Honolulu and a couple of other folks in the middle of a bank heist; when the safe can't be cracked, they steal from the bank's many depositors (lackeys, mostly, of rich bosses who sent them there). Lots of folks lie and, of course, break the house rules.

The film is not without a bit of socio-political commentary, with a couple of nods to a struggle between the haves-and-have-nots.

Conclusion

In an interview held after the screening I attended, freshman director Drew Pearce called Hotel Artemis a "love letter" to Los Angeles.

Given that Pearce's cinematic Los Angeles is engulfed in water wars and city-burning riots, that love can be hard to see at first. Yet the faded glory of the Artemis, the fallen morality of its protagonists and the movie's decadent, decaying vibe certainly feel similar to a certain, romanticized period in Hollywood's past—a time glamorized in the detective stories of Raymond Chandler or echoed in Gloria Swanson's Sunset Boulevard. It reminded me a little, actually, of Disney's beloved Tower of Terror ride—itself set in a decaying Hollywood hotel long past its glory.

Of course, Tower of Terror is all about family-appropriate squeals and thrills, and Hotel Artemis is anything but. While the characters have more meat to them than you might expect, their own flesh is all-too-frequently pierced by bullets and carved by scalpels and axes. Blood dribbles from wounds and onto the Artemis's floors and fabrics. Curses sully the halls and operating rooms.

Even as Hotel Artemis is a love letter to Los Angeles and, on some level, to Old Hollywood, it shows how much that Hollywood has changed. Sunset Boulevard and Chandler's Double Indemnity were creepy, disturbing films, but the unease we feel while watching those black-and-white movies springs from their sharp characters and insightful writing: The darkness burbled under the surface. In Artemis, the darkness gushes from the ceilings, the walls, the windows and doors. And forget subtle black and white: Here, it's all a dark red.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jodie Foster as The Nurse; Sterling K. Brown as Waikiki; Sofia Boutella as Nice; Jeff Goldblum as Niagara; Brian Tyree Henry as Honolulu; Jenny Slate as Morgan; Zachary Quinto as Crosby Franklin; Charlie Day as Acapulco; Dave Bautista as Everest; Kenneth Choi as Buke

Director

Drew Pearce ( )

Distributor

Global Road Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

June 8, 2018

On Video

October 9, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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