Out Now On-Demand
Golden Globe winner Dev Patel (Lion) and Globe nominee Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) star in this drama based on the documentary Surviving Mumbai, which covered the 2008 Mumbai hotel bombing.
"The film focuses on the events that transpired at the opulent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, targeted by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants as an emblem of Indian prosperity and modernity. The city erupts, and explosions render much of the hotel a death trap. Gunmen — uneducated, impoverished young men led by charismatic extremists — begin hunting down staff and clients. People in the thick of the maelstrom, people from a wide range of class, culture, and creed must find a way to organise and mobilise in the face of constant peril." (Toronto International Film Festival)
- Anthony Maras(feature debut)
Drama, True Story & Biography, Historical
Rating: R16 Violence, cruelty & offensive language
An intense, documentary-style drama based on the 2008 terrorist attacks on India, Hotel Mumbai is a well-crafted film that's hard to watch for two reasons—one intentional, the other unfortunate. I don't think anyone will deny just how impactful Australian director Anthony Maras's work is. He's effectively constructed dread-filled sequences that are punctuated with visceral moments of horror.
It's satisfying on a surface level as a white-knuckle thriller, but don't expect anything deeper than that. The discomfort and tension that comes from a realistic depiction of a real, recent terrorist attack are exactly what you watch a film like this for. But sadly, as Hotel Mumbai rolls on, it becomes increasingly apparent that it's a very Australian take on a very Indian tragedy. This makes it an uncomfortable watch in a way you definitely don't want.
A rather comparable film is Paul Greengrass's United 93—itself an English filmmaker's take on a then-recent American tragedy. But that superior work felt less exploitative and sure as hell didn't emphasize A-list Bollywood stars over a few token American actors, British lead Dev Patel notwithstanding.
With films like this, it's usually best to curb your own political leanings and just try to experience the story on its own terms with the characters. But sometimes the politics are so unsubtle it's distracting, and the occasionally preachy Hotel Mumbai suffers that way. There's also some stupid comic relief, including a rich Russian discussing prostitute nipple size and an extended gag about Muslim terrorists tricking each other into eating pork in between murdering people.
Hotel Mumbai tries to make meaningful statements about the human spirit and Islam, but they're generally unsophisticated and myopic. That won't matter to some viewers and for them, along with those who can just ignore the bullsh-t, this does what it says on the tin and does it bloody well. It's just a shame that to appreciate the solid filmmaking you have to leave your ethics at the door.
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Urban Cinefile (Louise Keller)
A Tense Re-Telling of the Mumbai Massacre
For those unfamiliar with the events, Hotel Mumbai serves as a sweaty, edge-of-seat thriller - made all the more unsettling since it's based on real events. Dev Patel, Jason Isaacs, Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi lead the ensemble of guests trying to escape the confines of the hotel without catching a bullet. Gripping, well acted and ultimately, heart-breaking.