Alright, so this movie is based on true events. I had my suspicion, but I didn’t look too closely at it. In 2008, an Islamic terrorist group based in Pakistan, called Lashkar-e-Taiba, had been organizing attacks all across Mumbai. Shootings, bombings, pretty much the worst things terrorist assholes can do to people. Almost 200 people were killed. This particular movie revolves around on one specific attack. The one on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Dev Patel (THE WEDDING GUEST , LION , and upcoming films THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD  and GREEN KNIGHT ), Armie Hammer (BASIS/SEX , FREE FIRE , NOCTURNAL ANIMALS , MAN/UNCLE , and upcoming films DEATH ON THE NILE  and DREAMLAND ), Anupam Kher (THE BIG SICK ), Nazanin Boniadi (BEN-HUR  and IRON MAN ), and Jason Isaacs (LONDON FIELDS , CURE/WELLNESS , INFILTRATOR , and the upcoming DR. BIRD’S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, co-writing, and co-editing is Anthony Maras, making his feature film debut. Maras’ partner-in-pen is John Collee, known for HAPPY FEET (2006) and MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003). Composing the score is Volker Bertelmann, known for ADRIFT (2018), LION, and the upcoming THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN (2019). The cinematographer is Nick Remy Matthews, known for making his feature film debut. Finally, the co-editor is Peter McNulty, known for MEGAN LEAVEY (2017).
Overall, I want to love this movie. I really like the talent they have in this project, so color me excited and hopeful.
This is my honest opinion of: HOTEL MUMBAI
Set in Mumbai, circa November 2008. A small group of terrorists begin a string of deadly attacks on the general populace, leaving hundreds dead, and more injured. What started as a normal business day for the Taj Mahal Hotel and a pleasant stay for the guests, quickly erupts into chaos and carnage as the terrorists begin hunting and executing the staff and guests alike.
Not that I’ve read a lot of reviews on this movie, but one that stood out that kind of frustrated me was mentioning that there was no story or character development. But you know something, similar to DEEPWATER HORIZON, this isn’t that kind of movie. Something’s telling me that these people didn’t have a whole lot of life revelation moments. Sure, one could argue that this is where creative differences come in, but honestly, I’m okay with the take here.
Also, I thought the characterizations were fine. Okay, no one’s giving Shakespeare a run for his money, but for the roles they play they do their job for what no development they have. Armie Hammer as David plays a protective husband and father, Nazanin Boniadi as Zahra is a loving wife and mother, Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Sally is a resilient nanny to David and Zahra’s infant child. Hell, there’s a scene in this movie that is almost as tense as the one in QUIET PLACE. Jason Isaacs as Vasili is a douchie, but bad-ass Russian and Anupam Kher as Oberoi is actually pretty inspiring as the tough, but forgiving, brave and reassuring chef of the restaurant. Like I said, nothing deep, but deep enough for me to be invested in their survival, knowing that I’m not being manipulated.
The movie does a great job of creating a sense of fear, tension, and outrage. That just two people with automatic rifles can go to populated areas and literally kill hundreds of people. Hell, one has to wonder how much ammunition they were carrying in those backpacks in order to pull that shit off. But I guess never underestimate psychos with guns. Americans, sadly, know this all too well as of late. Regardless, when those news outlets are reporting the news, showing smoke, blood on the streets, it’s horrifying. What cements the terror is the sound mixing. While the ambiance never goes dead silent prior to a shooting, every time a gunshot goes off, it’s loud. It’s terrifying. You’re just as alert as all the people in hiding. When people are hiding behind counters and being searched for while hiding in closets and such, it gets legit tense, and you really don’t know who will end up surviving the incident or not.
About the only legit complaint that I have is that there are moments where this movie tries to humanize the terrorists. This isn’t constant, of course, but one of them gets a crying scene as he hopes that his family gets money that was promised to them for his own part in the attacks, but is wrestling with the idea that maybe they won’t be taken care of. <<<SPOILERS>>> [ There’s also a bit where he’s about to execute Zahra, but she starts praying… something that he’s familiar with and it freaks him out to the point where he doesn’t kill her. None of this seems to matter in the end because he ends up getting axed off, so we never know what happens to his family. But… I don’t care about his family because this character killed off entire families. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>> Also, there’s a bit where another terrorist is singing a calming tune. Um… I’m sure if there was a translation, this could be explained away, but the way that it’s shot makes it seem like this is supposed to be a moving, emotional moment. The bad guys should not be setting the ambiance.
It’s plain and simple that this movie won’t be for everyone, but I got more than enough out of this experience. There are a couple of questionable moments, but I do think this movie is worth seeing if you’re interested. I doubt it’ll win any awards, but so long as you know that you’re in for some pretty intense imagery and violence, it’ll be an interesting watch.
My honest rating for HOTEL MUMBAI: 4/5
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