Hotel Mumbai

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Wick's Review

Created Apr 22, 2019 12:08AM PST • Edited Apr 23, 2019 04:41AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    The 2008 Mumbai attacks were of 9/11 savagery and comprehensiveness, yet have faded from Western consciousness. Hotel Mumbai recreates them with stunning alacrity, moving quickly from the Islamist terrorists coming ashore in rubber boats to starting to shoot-up train stations, restaurants and especially the legendary Taj Hotel, where most of the movie is then set. It’s a well rounded and highly dramatic tableau.

    Most insightful is the guidance the young terrorists receive via satellite phone from their handler back in Pakistan. He cajoles, flatters, reprimands and reassures them — a literal voice of evil in their ears.

    On a cinematic level, Hotel Mumbai is a terrific disaster movie. It starts quickly, revs to one higher gear after another, and keeps us on tenterhooks about which sympathetic victims will live, and which will be executed in cold blood. Plus, there are several turnabouts where brave hostages and police give us something to cheer. In short, Hotel Mumbai is highly entertaining in a macabre way, even as it is required historical viewing that does honor to the victims and survivors of one of Islamism’s most heinous travesties.

  3. Great 4.0

    Dev Patel anchors the movie as a waiter who rises to heroism. Playing a Sikh who must explain to a terrified Westerner that he’s not Muslim and therefore couldn’t be an Islamist, Patel once again proves to be highly relatable across cultural divides, in part because of his down-to-earth nature.

    • Anupam Kher cuts an impressively stalwart figure of great rectitude as the head chef at the Taj.
    • Armie Hammer & Nazanin Boniadi are ultimately quite affecting as a rich couple traveling with their baby and nanny, he an American, she an Iranian and secular Muslim.
    • Tilda Cobham-Hervey jumps offscreen as their nanny who is deeply menaced by the terrorists.
    • Jason Isaacs is his usual macho self as an apparently corrupt Russian businessman and playboy. Isaacs is a great actor.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    First time feature director Anthony Maras deserves more big-time directing jobs after succeeding so well with Hotel Mumbai.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.6
  15. Sex Innocent 1.5
  16. Violence Savage 3.9
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.5
  18. Glib 1.1

    Hotel Mumbai has one curious omission: avoiding any mention of the Jewish community center that was one of the main targets of the terrorists. While the movie had to make editorial choices, the attack on the Jewish center was unlike the other targets, making its exclusion notable.

    That omission aside, the movie is studded with insightful nuggets.

    • The attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT, “one of the largest and most active Islamist militant organizations in South Asia, operating mainly from Pakistan,” per Wikipedia. Their long list of atrocities against India, Sikhs and others includes the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.
    • The handler reinforces to his charges the myth that Islam has been robbed by other religions and groups over the centuries. Thus, Islamists justify the wanton killing of innocents.
    • The terrorists themselves were mere boys, most or all high school dropouts. Thus do the kingpins of Islamism get rubes to effect their evil, while they stay safe at home.
    • Hostages who demonstrated some aspect of Islamic knowledge or piety were spared.
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.3

    One of the terrorists shoots a guest in the bathroom and then marvels upon discovering a toilet, saying to his buddy “They even have something to take their shit away.” Were these young Islamists such rubes that they were entirely unaware of indoor plumbing?

  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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