There’s a lot of genre flourish packed into a relatively tidy running time in “Hotel Artemis,” the directorial feature debut from the screenwriter Drew Pearce. Extrapolating from a droll “hotel for criminals only” concept recently seen in a sequence from 2014’s “John Wick,” this movie makes the locale a combination hotel/hospital, sets the story a decade in the future, adds appropriately advanced technology, and surrounds it with a rioting Los Angeles populace up in arms over the privatization of water.
Presiding over the facilities is a quiet, sad, hard-drinking older woman played by Jodie Foster — “older woman,” good grief! — who answers to The Nurse, and her bruiser orderly, nicknamed Everest and played by Dave Bautista in his most credible screen turn yet.
Plot elements complicating matters include a pen with dangerous contents, a wounded cop with a sentimental attachment to The Nurse and an impending visit from a crime boss (Jeff Goldblum) known only as the Wolf King of L.A. (Mr. Pearce, who also includes “California Dreamin’” on the soundtrack, is clearly well versed in the mythology of the distasteful musical genius John Phillips, the Mamas and the Papas founder and self-proclaimed “Wolf King” of, well, you know.)
Mr. Pearce is also well-versed in staging and shooting decent action scenes, and building suspense enough to keep “Hotel Artemis” diverting in its overstuffed ambition. Add to that Ms. Foster’s welcome return to big-screen acting after a five-year layoff and you’ve got a movie almost worth seeing.
Rated R for violence, language, the usual hotel-for-criminals stuff. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes.