DIRECTOR: anthony maras (debut)
STARRING: dev patel, armie hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, and jason isaacs
REVIEWER: lyall carter
In 2008 the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai becomes the target of a deadly attack by Pakistani militants. Dozens of people are held hostage as fire races through the building.
The only movie that has physically effected me was Dunkirk. Narratively, visually, audibly - it was an assault to the senses. So much so that I'd reached my car before realising that I'd forgotten my phone, wallet, and keys. That was until Hotel Mumbai.
Hotel Mumbai follows the stories of a handful of different people from hotel staff to backpackers to the guests of the Taj Mahal Palace as the the city of Mumbai is assaulted by horrific terrorist attacks.
Hotel Mumbai is a white knuckle ride from start to finish as it immerses you in the bloody violence that the young terrorists inflict on their helpless victims. The story follows a few threads but is mainly focused on Arjun, a worker at the Taj Mahal Palace with a young family, and David and Zahra, a young family visiting Mumbai.
What we witness is how indiscriminate violence perpetrated by terrorists generally is. Both rich and poor are cut down in a rain of bullets and bombs. But what stands out most from this story is the wonder and the horror that human beings can inflict on one another.
There are stories of terrific sacrifice for relative strangers with some paying the ultimate price for that bravery. This is in stark contrast to the murderous thugs who are inflicting terror on their helpless victims.
Similar to Dunkirk and Paul Greengrass' 2006 United 93, Hotel Mumbai doesn't give you a ton of backstory on the characters, we know their stories to a certain extent but not super in depth. The film merely sits you down in the midst of hell on earth. And even though you don't know them as well as characters in other films, you find yourself caring deeply for the characters because of what they must face.
Dev Patel is terrific (as always) as Arjun the staff worker at the Taj Mahal Palace and Nazanin Boniadi and Armie Hammer are completely first class as the young family caught up in the chaos. Its great to see Jason Isaacs in a slightly sinister role too as the mysterious Russian businessman with a little tinge of gold on that heart of his.
An assault on the senses from the beginning, Hotel Mumbai is a white knuckle ride that deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible.