Director-writer Drew Pearce won’t overstay his welcome with his feature-length debut Hotel Artemis, likely to be one of the more original efforts of a summer movie season that’s already showing signs of weakening.

Even if it takes a smidgen from the popular John Wick films and graphic novel — a hotel that caters to criminals — Pearce makes it his own, turning it into a substantive action romp.

Why substantive? Because Pearce’s film, directed from his script, actually takes the time to introduce us to his characters, allowing us to peer into their respective lives just enough to invest in what happens to them as the wild plot unfolds.

He injects the story with drama, humor, pathos and a plethora of action. However, rather than serve the audience a consistent diet of gory, gratuitous gougings, maimings and killings meant to titillate, he takes all of the movie’s previous elements and builds to a thrilling climax.

In Los Angeles in 2028 — for those who believe Twitter, it’s L.A. 2018 — The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs her version of the Hotel California. Backed by a mystery owner, membership is required for the villains who arrive at her establishment needing sanctuary and the medical services she provides.

She and her orderly, Everest (Guardians of the Galaxy’s John Bautista), offer top-notch service for their clients. However, they’re having a particularly bad and deadly Wednesday, as a riot over lack of access to water rages outside their doors.

The fun begins when Sherman (Sterling K. Brown) and Lev (Brian Tyree Henry), brothers whose bank robbery has gone awry, are forced to check in, joining a French assassin (Sofia Botella) and an arms dealer (Charlie Day). While Sherman just wants to get himself and his brother out safely, the assassin has a mark she’s after. And the arms dealer? Well, he has other needs to fulfill.

Departing proves to be a problem for everyone, apparently, as they can check out anytime they like, but they can never leave.

A series of converging events makes The Nurse’s life extremely difficult as she’s forced to confront her past in several ways. Among them: the hotel’s actual owner happens to be Los Angeles’ No. 1 organized crime figure.

While all of these loose ends appear to have little connection, Pearce’s script ties them all together cleverly and, just as importantly, he’s hired a cast that pulls it off with nary a weak performance.

Foster, not surprisingly, stands out as the neurotic nurse with a past. She deftly turns from exploring the jittery side of her character to finding her humor and, ultimately, her humanity.

If vulnerability, a sense of duty and menace can inhabit the same performance, Brown masters it as Sherman, courtesy of a script that allows him to explore his failings and regrets as if it were all natural.

The only problem with the cast is that Jeff Goldblum isn’t on screen enough. In his limited time, he makes the audience feel as if they’re hanging out with an old friend.

Give credit to Pearce — who is no stranger to the action genre, having served as a writer on Iron Man 3 — for coaxing these performances out of his cast.

However, he shows a keen eye for style as well, allowing his lighting, especially in the climactic scenes that he bathes in crimson, to set the mood and tone.

Hotel Artemis is worth the short stay required to enjoy it.

George M. Thomas can be reached at