Tony's Take

HOTEL MUMBAI review

The Gripping True Story of the Attack on the Taj Hotel

In November 2008, India was hit with a multi-point, coordinated attack on Mumbai by a terrorist cell; targeting 13 locations, including train stations, restaurants, and the Taj Motel.  “Hotel Mumbai” recreates those fateful days as it shows us how the events transpired.  As the film opens, we see the terrorists arriving in Mumbai and following strict instructions as they carry-out their plan.  Arjun (Dev Patel), a young waiter supporting a family, arrives late to the Taj for his shift.  As he does, we witness the first attack as terrorists open fire on civilians in a crowded train station.  While news begins to travel slowly, more and more areas are hit with gunfire and explosions as the terrorists finally reach their target destination: The Taj Hotel.  Hosting royalty, distinguished guests, and people from all over the World, the Taj prides itself on its excellence; going by the motto “Guest is God”.  As the terrorists enter the Taj disguised as frantic civilians, they open fire and begin killing everyone in the lobby.  They then go floor-by-floor to kill each and every guest they can.  As the film follows multiple storylines and people, the one true character from the actual Taj is the Head Chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher).  The rest of the cast is a collection of the survivors and victims of the terrible tragedy.

“Hotel Mumbai” is harrowingly intense, incredibly violent and poignant; the film is relentless from start to finish as you leave the theater shaken as the credits start to roll.  The film houses an impressive cast, featuring strong turns from the likes of Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, Armie Hamer, Jason Isaacs, and Nazanin Boniadi.  Each star given their own chance to shine, while honoring both the victims and survivors.  Their performances draw you to their characters and bring out raw emotion throughout.  While some will argue that it’s an exploitation of the cowardly act and of the innocent victims, I instead see it as a massive memorial to all of the victims and survivors.  “Hotel Mumbai” puts you right in the middle of the carnage, making the viewer feel as if they too are trying to survive the terrorists.  It is clear early-on that Anthony Maras did his research.  Instead of glorifying or embellishing the terrorists, the film portrays an eerie, precise recounting of their actions.  With masterful work from Maras, the film is a non-stop, pulse pounding adrenaline rush.  The scenes of violence and terror are difficult to watch, but his recreation brings grace and gravitas to this grave massacre.  The film doesn’t show the violence to sell tickets, but to honor those who both survived and lost their lives in the attacks.  During the 123 minutes, you will feel a wide-range of emotions but that is precisely Maras’ intention.  “Hotel Mumbai” is an excellent film that I truly hopes finds a wide audience as it reaches more theaters this weekend!

As far as directorial debuts go, “Hotel Mumbai” is a massive achievement!  “Hotel Mumbai” is one of the most poignant, intense, and thrilling films that I have seen in quite some time.  It has certainly stayed with me days after I saw it and I doubt I’ll be able to shake it anytime soon.  I cannot wait to see what Maras takes-on for his second feature; he has instantly shot-up my list of directors to watch and I am eagerly awaiting his next film!

4.5/5

HOTEL MUMBAI is rated R for disturbing violence throughout, bloody images, and language, in theaters MARCH 29TH!

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