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Movie Review: Hotel Mumbai


Arjun (Dev Patel) notices something going wrong inside the hotel in Anthony Maras’ first feature-length film Hotel Mumbai. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

Movies based on real-life events have been around ever since the beginning. They will never go the way of the dinosaurs. Dramatizations of the events being portrayed are hailed and criticized for their historical accuracies. Schindler’s List, GoodFellas, The Social Network, Captain Phillips among others work so well not just because of how accurate the events are portrayed, but how much respect the actors and directors give to the subject matter. On the other hand, movies such as Pearl Harbor and Annabelle don’t work, due to the poor quality and being unfocused garbage.

There’s a movie called Hotel Mumbai, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, recounting the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Over the course of four days, approximately 160 people were killed while 300 others were injured. Australian director Anthony Maras crafts a film reminiscent to the films of Paul Greengrass and Peter Berg.

On November 26, a group of terrorists arrive in Mumbai by boats to wreak havoc throughout the city. They start at the train station and a nearby cafe. Eventually, they end up at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. There, kitchen worker Arjun (Dev Patel) and the head chef Hemant (Anupam Kher) are working on that day. American newlyweds David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) arrive with their newborn child and nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). The two eat at the fancy restaurant inside the hotel while Sally looks over the child. Once the terrorists arrive, everyone must fight for their lives.

For a first feature-length film, Maras makes a thriller that is impressive and expertly-staged. It’s far from a masterpiece, but it’s never boring and the tension hardly lets up. The shootings are as brutal as expected and realistic. Patel has come a long way since Slumdog Millionaire. Now–it seems he is auditioning to become the next James Bond. He and Hammer are the highlights of the movie. Hammer plays David as someone who desperately tries to keep his family safe. It’s different than what we have seen him before. His performance is more powerful than the disastrous Sorry to Bother You. As for everyone else, they are there as stock characters. In the end, Hotel Mumbai feels somewhat mundane.