If you’ve seen Paul Greengrass’ United 93 or 22 July, then you’ll know what to expect from Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai — the latest ripped-from-the-headlines procedural about the horrors of global terror. A tick-tock dramatization of the November 2008 attack on India’s largest city, the film attempts to put a face (or faces) on a tragedy that took the lives of more than 100 people. But there’s a slightly craven whiff of exploitation to the film. It’s well-made and, at times, excruciatingly tense, even if you wonder why anyone would want to sit through it.
The always-welcome Dev Patel stars as Arjun, a working-class local catering to rich white tourists at the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Those guests, who include a young couple (Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi) and a tacky Russian oligarch (Jason Isaacs), find themselves under siege when armed Islamic fanatics from Pakistan storm the five-star oasis in the name of jihad. Even with its two-hour-plus running time, the movie rarely lets up. But to what end? If Hotel Mumbai’s aim is to show the heroism of the hotel’s Indian employees who risked their lives to save their VIP clients, then mission accomplished. But Maras’ film isn’t nuanced enough to feel like more than a morbid re-enactment of a bloodbath served up as entertainment. B-
More movie reviews:
- Jordan Peele’s Us is bloody, body-snatching fun
- Captain Marvel is a messy origin story with some clever twists
- Haley Lu Richardson saves Five Feet Apart from its treacly cliches