"A Tragic Event That Deserved Better"
What You Need To Know:
HOTEL MUMBAI is a tragic movie. The intensity begins fairly quickly and doesn’t let up until the end. Sadly, the characters lack depth. For a movie where most of the characters introduced are brutally murdered, a better resolution was very much needed and would have been greatly appreciated. The worldview is all over the place in HOTEL MUMBAI. There are both nods and rebukes to false religions like Islam and Sikhism, as well as a few Christian symbols and positive biblical, moral virtues. None of it comes together cohesively in the end, however. Finally, HOTEL MUMBAI has lots of graphic violence and a slightly excessive amount of foul language. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for HOTEL MUMBAI.
HOTEL MUMBAI is a thriller about the horrendous Muslim terrorist attacks that took place at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and all across Mumbai, India in 2008.
The movie opens with ten Muslim men entering the city and spreading throughout Mumbai to plan several attacks at once. At the Taj Hotel, David and Zahra are a newly married couple with a young baby arriving at the hotel for a vacation. David, an American, and Zahra, an Indian, are very wealthy and have a beautiful suite at the hotel. One of the staff at the hotel is Arjun (Dev Patel), a young man with a young family who’s working hard to provide for his family.
On this particular day, Arjun has forgotten his nice work shoes. His boss, the world renown chef Hemant Oberoi nearly forces Arjun to go home for the day for making such a mistake, but decides to let him borrow an extra pair of shoes in his office. Chef Hemant expects nothing but perfection from his hotel staff, frequently reminding them of their moto, “Guest is god.”
David and Zahra arrive at their suite and leave their little baby with the nanny in the room, so they can enjoy dinner together. About this time, the attacks from the Islamic terrorists start to take place around the city. It doesn’t take long for four gunmen to begin shooting people mercilessly around the hotel, which erupts in chaos.
Can David get to the nanny and his baby in their room without getting killed? Can Arjun protect the guests in his care from the attackers?
HOTEL MUMBAI is truly a tragic movie. The intensity begins fairly quickly and doesn’t let up until the end. Writer/Director Anthony Maras skillfully coordinates the chaos and carnage of what happened. What’s missing, however, is a strong connection to the individuals who experienced the events. While you hope every one of the victims survive, many, if not most of the real-life characters portrayed, deserved more depth. For a movie where most of the characters introduced are brutally murdered, a better resolution was very much needed and would have been greatly appreciated.
One of the biggest problems is a sense of classism that seems to stay throughout the story. The motivation of telling the story is clearly to honor the many Taj Hotel staff members who stayed to help the guests trapped inside the hotel, when they could’ve likely escaped. This bravery is extremely touching. What’s jarring, though, is that amid all the chaos of the attacks, many of the staff are still waiting on the rich guests. At one point after finding refuge in a secured room from the attackers, one of the guests asks for a cocktail drink from the staff, and the staff maintains a posture of serving the guests no matter what, because “guest is god” in their mind. This lack of common humanity in an equal struggle for survival is hard to stomach, even if it’s realistic to the actual events.
The worldview is all over the place in HOTEL MUMBAI. While the attackers are very clearly Muslim, multiple characters flat out reject the prayers offered to them from other Muslims. Arjun is also a Sikh and discusses his religion briefly. At another point, the movie shows a picture of Jesus on the wall and a cross. One woman who’s a non-practicing Muslim saves her life by praying to Allah and ultimately convincing the young Muslim Jihadist not to kill her. While the ultimate villain is Islamic Jihadism, the movie mostly focuses on the triumph of the human spirit in a humanistic way. Sadly, the orchestrator of the attacks still hasn’t been caught.
Besides extreme, graphic violence, HOTEL MUMBAI has a slightly excessive amount of foul language. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution. HOTEL MUMBAI should have been a better tribute to the victims of the heinous 2008 attack in India by Muslim terrorists.