HOTEL MUMBAI – Review by Martha K. Baker

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Hotel Mumbai is an amazing film of horrible attack

Hotel Mumbai allows viewers inside a terrorist attack. If the promise of that does not invite viewers, then there’s this: it evinces all the properties of remarkable film-making. Director Anthony Maras wrote the script with John Collee and shared admirable editing with Peter McNulty.

Hotel Mumbai is based on the true events that started in November 2008. A cadre of terrorists from Pakistan arrives in India’s capital city by panga. Each young gunman listens to his leader, Brother Bull, through ear phones as Bull recites affirmations about their calling to kill.

They target 12 sites, the last of them the Taj Hotel, home to wealthy, international tourists but also to a dedicated staff. The hotel’s creamy marble, its sculpted marigolds, the bath water at an exact temperature — these all whisper luxury. The whispers contradict the bullets and grenades that follow, the blood and screams. These, in turn, are lobbed against the staff’s considerable care for the guests.

Staff members whose actions are highlighted are played by Anupam Kher (from The Big Sick) and Dev Patel (from, most recently, The Wedding Guest). Guests whose stories are highlighted are played by Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex), Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), and Jason Isaacs as the profligate Russian.

His are the most important words spoken in Hotel Mumbai. As he lies dying, he is promised prayers. Sotto voce, he declares: “I don’t want your prayers. That’s what got us into this shit.” It little matters what religion is professed by the terrorists, whether Christian or Muslim or Jew or Jain. What matters is the killers’ extremism and their guns. Hotel Mumbai, however, is more about heroism than horror, and it is one fine film.

I’m Martha K. Baker. From the Grand Center Arts District, this is 88.1, KDHX, St. Louis.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.