‘Hotel Mumbai’ Review: A Taut, Suspenseful Film about a Terrorist Attack on a Hotel Full of Tourists

Hotel Mumbai Review

NexHotel Mumbai is an ‘edge of your seat’ film about the 2008 terrorist attack on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. Director/co-writer Anthony Maras brings us the story of the tourists (and the hotel staff that stayed to protect them) whom the attackers targeted. The tension builds throughout the film – which leaves us to wonder if the individuals who we have gotten to know (and root for) will survive.

Hotel Mumbai Review: A Look At The First Scenes

We open on ten grim men, all very young, going across a body of water in an inflatable boat. These men are listening on their phones to an older man giving them encouragement. After they arrive at their destination, they grab very full backpacks and duffle bags. It is obvious right from the start that these men are going to do something really bad. Next, they split up and get into three separate taxis, and they are going to three different locations; a rail station, a cafe, and the Taj Hotel.

We cut to Arjun (Dev Patel) who is carefully adjusting his turban in the mirror in his bedroom. With the care he puts into his turban’s appearance, we know that it is important to him. Satisfied with the look, he hurriedly puts on his shirt. After that he picks up his two-year-old daughter and his backpack, and as he does so a dress shoe falls out of the bag. Arjun does not notice that it has been left behind on the floor. He carries his daughter on the crowded streets of Mumbai to the place where his wife works. He hands over their daughter to her, and they kiss. Then he reaches down and kisses her pregnant belly. We cut to Arjun driving on the street on a motorbike, he is late for work.

We cut to the young men in the three taxi’s, and the man on the phone is giving them a pep talk. It’s clear that something horrible is about to happen at the hands of these men. He tells them to hit the train station first, then the other two sites thirty minutes later.

The Majestic Taj Hotel

Next, we cut to the majestic Taj Hotel. We see a room that is being prepared for some VIP’s that have a baby with them. And the staff is doing everything, from folding baby clothes to making sure the bath is the right temperature. We can tell that this is a hotel with high standards. Next, we see Arjun, who is late and hurrying to clock in and change into his waiter clothes.

We cut to a taxi where we see David (Armie Hammer), his wife Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi), and their baby who is being held by their Nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobhan-Hervey). And we see that they all are excited about their stay at the Taj Hotel. As they walk into the immense and truly impressive lobby, they are greeted with flowers. From here the staff shows them to their lavish room. The baby is feeling a bit warm, and a doctor will be called. Subsequently the couple decides to go to dinner as the nanny tells them she is fine staying behind.

We cut to the rail station and two of the young men go into the bathroom and into stalls preparing their weapons, checking on ammunition and putting grenades in their pockets. The two men emerge from the stalls, take a deep breath, look at each other, and then head out of the bathroom. We soon hear gunshots and screams. Very soon, they will attack the Taj Hotel. Can the Hotel guests and staff survive such a vicious attack?

Hotel Mumbai Review – The Characters

The film centers on a number of characters. There’s the loving, just married couple, David and Zahra, their nanny, Sally. Next, there’s a Russian businessman who is rich and entitled named Vasili (Jason Isaacs). Then there’s the waiter Arjun, who is desperate for as much work as he can get. And lastly, there’s the head Chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher), he has high standards that must be followed. The movie does a perfect job of letting us know what makes these characters tick, and what is important to them.

When the attacks start, we already know how all these people will react to the crisis. David and Zahra’s priority is the safety of their baby, as is Sally, the nanny. Vasili is out to save himself, putting his safety above all others. Arjun wants desperately to get back to his family, but he has a sense of purpose that he must do everything he can to ensure his guests are protected. Chef Oberoi will take charge and coordinate the kitchen staff to try and save as many people as he can.

Hotel Mumbai Review – The Story

Hotel Mumbai builds tension throughout the film, which lasts a little over two hours. The story moves at a quick pace and doesn’t feel long. This is a result of smart editing, which is done by Anthony Maras and Peter McNulty. And the clever editing gives us not only insight into the guests and staff, but also the terrorists. We see glimpses into their motivation for this attack.

I will warn you that the violence is pretty brutal and seems realistic. However, I feel it’s important to the film, because that is what this type of attack is like. The terrorists kill with reckless abandon, almost as if they are robots murdering everyone they see. The violence here can be quite terrifying in its quickness and intensity.

Hotel Mumbai Review – The Acting

The movie centers around Dev Patel, whose character interacts with all the guests who are featured. Patel is more than up to the task, and his  performance here is moving and inspirational. He allows the humanity of Arjun to come through on the screen. And I also really enjoyed the chemistry between Hammer and Boniadi, making their love for each other and their baby quite believable. Kher also does an outstanding job as the stoic chef who takes everyone under his wing.

Though sometimes hard to watch, due to the the brutal violence and incredible amounts of stress (especially knowing that it is based on true events), it is a film to experience. Hotel Mumbai is worth the watch, because ultimately it shows us the goodness and compassion in people overcomes evil.

Hotel Mumbai Review

My Rating: Full Price

Mike’s Movie Rating System From Best to Worst:

I Would Pay to See it Again
Full Price
Bargain Matinee
You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again


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