By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
In November of 2008, a group of armed terrorists attacked the city of Mumbai. Focusing on crowded areas, they employed military-style tactics to gun down as many civilians as possible. One of those targets was the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, chosen because numerous wealthy tourists would be present. Hotel Mumbai is a recreation of those events, in all of its ruthlessness.
Not for those with anxiety issues…
Director Anthony Maras seems to have set out to reenact the incident for the screen without diluting its complete and utter brutality. This goal is accomplished without any sense of missing threads. From the violent crack of the gunshots, to the gory results of their terrifying work. From the panic-stricken victims and their sudden silences. This movie may be too much for those that go in unprepared. The truth; however, is films like this remind us of the senselessness to which humanity is capable of sinking. It these sort of calls for remembrance that help us cope as a species, and hopefully evolve more peacefully as a result.
The human cost, often overlooked.
Dev Patel leads a solid cast of actors in this ensemble film that brilliantly recounts a horrible act of terrorism through the eyes of the victims. Patel stretches his talents here in ways he’s never really gotten to before. One of the hotel porters who takes it upon himself to put his clientele above his own safety, his character is an amalgamation of of several real-life heroes of the incident, but given the film’s need for brevity, he carries the dramatic weight wonderfully.
The film contains a handful of clichés all too common with Western-made films about India. Such as a character at a restaurant trying to order beef, and not knowing the difference between a Muslim and a Sikh. Considering the film takes place in a hotel that had many Western guests, it’s not too out of place, but it does get old seeing these same tropes in every movie of this sort. It is as if the screenwriter considers the work a tour guide first and a piece of art second.
Might I suggest Frommer’s instead?
It is a small miracle that they managed to make the audience consider the surroundings these killers, mostly kids, were brought up in that radicalized them so much. Small scenes, a line of dialogue here and there, build their backstory well. It does this without making excuses for their actions. This mostly makes up for the fact that the movie doesn’t really make much of a point beyond saying “terrorism is bad”.
Hotel Mumbai depicts the events of the 2008 Mumbai attacks with brutal sincerity, sharp visual direction, and excellent performances all around. The lack of a potent message doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the most visceral movies of 2019.
Hotel Mumbai (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: because of how horrifying this movie reminds you the world can be.
Take a Drink: when you realize the above, remember that no matter how horrifying the movie gets, you weren’t there when it really happened, so you have no idea.
Do a Shot: and let it all sink in a bit more… there… now put on a comedy.