Summer's all about relaxin' and action, and there's no better way to combine the two than watching this summer's unusual part sci-fi, part heist, part kinetic stunt film Hotel Artemis. The film has already garnered multiple comparisons to another high-concept, rules-heavy action film, but exactly how are Hotel Artemis and John Wick connected?
Set in the near-future where water shortages cause rioting and healing nanotechnology is available to those willing to pay for it, June 8's Hotel Artemis is centered around the titular hotel, whose penthouse contains a heavily-guarded hospital for assassins and underworld figures. Anyone who's paid their membership dues can gain access and stay as long as needed... as long as they follow the rules.
If this sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. Fans of the John Wick movies have noted how the premise of Hotel Artemis bears resemblance to that franchise's neutral zone, the Continental Hotel. Both hotels have a short list of strict rules that must be followed, including absolutely no fighting on the premises, no business conducted, and membership instantly revoked should any of these rules be broken.
However, that's where the connection ends. The films are not directly tied together by anything more than a love of noir and stylish action. Writer/director Drew Pearce explained his motivation behind Hotel Artemis in an interview with The Hollywood News pretty simply, saying, "I love the idea of bad guys. I think they're more fun for actors to play, and they're more fun for me to write, so why put any good guys in at all? So that's how I came up with the idea of a secret hospital for criminals."
Meanwhile, John Wick writer/director David Kolstad explained to The Action Elite that the story was based on his relationship with his own dogs. "Sometimes, when they're not here, I find myself a bit off and that's where the story came from," said Kolstad. "And hell, who doesn't love a good old-fashioned assassin flick!"
John Wick also implied from the start it was international in scope, with iterations of the Continental all over the globe. Hotel Artemis, however, is a solidly City of Angels affair. Pearce explained to The Hollywood News that "Hotel Artemis is steeped in the movies and music and crime literature that defined Los Angeles," with the action taking place after a botched robbery in the area. It also helps buff the film's Hollywood aura by having it shine bright with star wattage, including Jodie Foster as The Nurse, Jeff Goldblum as underworld heavy The Wolf King, Sterling K. Brown as a bank robber who accidentally steps on the Wolf King's turf, and Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, David Bautista, and Zachary Quinto in supporting roles.
During a bank robbery, Brown's character Waikiki (the film is filled with location-based nicknames) steals the wrong pen from the wrong guy; it turns out it's filled with diamonds that belong to The Wolf King. When Waikiki's brother Honolulu gets injured during their escape, there's only one place for them to go: Hotel Artemis, where they encounter other patients with their own agendas healing up.
John Wick is a straightforward tale of revenge, one man against the world, who merely dips into his world's hub of underground activity as necessary — the audience follows Wick, not the location. But in Hotel Artemis, the hub becomes the main focus, a fortress against the outside world and a place for characters of all sorts to drift in and out with the Hotel, Foster as its Nurse, and Bautista as a very devoted medical aide the center of the film's attention.
Some fans and reviewers have noted and derided the similarities between the two films, or contrived fan theories that Hotel Artemis takes place in Wick's future. Surely in the languid heat of summer, there's room for more than one rule-bound world-building hitman action film.