The attacks are so real, you’ll want to look behind your seats
I have a thing for international thrillers, mostly involving terrorists, because of how they craft the drama and thrills with pure honesty. And I also admire stories set in India, because of the characters they introduce us to and the lives they live. “Hotel Mumbai” combines these two types of genres, as it retells the 2008 attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India.
I looked up more info about this event. It wasn’t just the hotel, but practically the whole city was attacked. The targets also included the Cama Hospital, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, the Rail Terminus train station, the Leopold Cafe, and the Mumbai Chabad House. The results: 174 people, including the attackers, were murdered, while 300 people were wounded.
I’ve seen active gun shooting videos, so I obviously know the dangers and prioritizing. In fact, the attacks here look so real and provocative, that I kept looking back from my seat. I assume many of you would do the same. The movie, edited, co-written and directed by Anthony Maras, focuses on whether or not the guests and staff will survive the night. Most of them didn’t, based on the true events.
The cast includes Dev Patel (also a producer) as a young family man and waiter; Armie Hammer as an American architect; Nazanin Boniadi as his wife; Anupam Kher (“The Big Sick”) as the no nonsense head chef; and Jason Isaacs as a Russian businessman. All of them must struggle for survival when terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack and bomb the hotel and many other random locations in Mumbai, all for the sake of their god Allah.
There’s no character study here, like their environments and reasons for visiting the hotel; but then again, Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” cared more about the soldiers getting off the beaches alive. I assume they may be here because the trailers and posters told them to, but they pull off some fine acting.
“Hotel Mumbai” offers the kind of intensity and horrors that you’d expect in a terrorist thriller. Sometimes they work, sometimes they overdose on the violence, and other times they reimagine the real events. It’s more patient than Michael Bay’s “13 Hours,” and no matter the advertising and casting, you end up caring for the victims.
Credit must go to Anthony Maras, co-writer John Collee (“Master and Commander”), cinematographer Nick Remy Matthews, and editor Peter McNulty (“The Master”) for representing the horrifying events with honesty, life-threatening situations, and a variety of frightened characters. This is about getting out of the hotel alive, that is, if most of them can get out alive.