Hotel Mumbai

The majestic façade hides terror and carnage.

(2021) True Life Drama (Bleecker Street) Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs, Alex Pinder, Amadeep Singh, Suhail Nayyar, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Yash Trivedi, Aditi Kalkunte, Vipin Sharma, Gaurav Paswala, Angus McLaren, Naina Sareen, Sachin Joab, Chantal Contouri, Vitthal Kale, Nagesh Bhonsie, Carmen Duncan. Directed by Anthony Maras

 

On November 26, 2008 ten members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization based in Pakistan carried out a variety of attacks over four days at several locations in the city of Mumbai, one of the largest cities and de facto financial capital of India. Among the locations that were under siege was the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a high-end hotel in the city.

First-time feature filmmaker Anthony Maras adopted a you-are-there approach in depicting the events, emphasizing the multi-cultural aspect of the attackers and victims (ten different languages are spoken during the course of the film). Maras manages to capture the terror, panic and chaos of the attacks, which took place over four days before the attackers were finally stopped (nine of the ten attackers were killed; the tenth, Ajmal Kasab, was captured alive and provided testimony which explained how the attacks were planned and executed. He himself would be executed by hanging in 2016).

The stories here were mainly heroic as the hotel staff tried to protect the guests at the hotel, often at great personal risk. There are far too many characters to go into individually but the performances are generally quite solid with those of Patel, as a kind-hearted Sikh waiter, Hammer and Boniadi as a wealthy newlywed couple terrified for the safety of their newborn baby, and veteran Indian actor Kher as a celebrity chef whose quick-thinking and calm leadership saved dozens of lives.

The pacing is generally pretty fast, although it does drag a little bit in the middle of the movie. Still, this is a very good movie that has been overlooked in many ways. It is available to stream on a variety of services and is one you would do well to check out.

REASONS TO SEE: Strong performances from Patel and Kher. Taut and suspenseful.
REASONS TO AVOID: A little slow in the middle.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a fair amount of violence (some of it gruesome) and profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Maras and co-writer John Collee based their film on hundreds of hours of interviews with survivors and witnesses. Some of the dialogue is taken verbatim from them.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AMC On Demand, AppleTV, Google Play, Hulu, Microsoft, Redbox, Spectrum, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 1/13/22: Rotten Tomatoes: 76% positive reviews; Metacritic: 62/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing
FINAL RATING: 7/10
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