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| 15 March 2019 | Reply

Directed by Anthony Maras
Written by John Collee & Anthony Maras
Starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Forget evil spirits and undead witches, true horror exists in this world in the shape of terrorism, an evil scourge whose fanatical perpetrators can strike anywhere and cannot be reasoned with.

Hotel Mumbai dramatizes the events surrounding one such actual event in November 2008, when an extended group of terrorists opened fire in multiple locations around Mumbai.

The main target of the wave of attacks was the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, and the ensuing chaos – exacerbated by there being no active anti-terrorism based within hundreds of kilometres of the city – threw surviving hotel staff and guests together in a desperate struggle for survival.

The film features Dev Patel as struggling waiter Arjun, a man who rises to great acts of courage in the face of four merciless gunmen prowling the corridors of the hotel and shooting at will. Also featured are Jason Isaacs as a wealthy and arrogant Russian businessman, Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi as new parents, Tilda Cobham-Hervey as their nanny, and Anupam Kher as Hotel Chef Oberoi, who all show remarkable desperation as people stuck in an unthinkable situation.

Mention should also be made of Amandeep Singh, Suhail Nayyar, Manoj Mehra, Dinesh Kumar, Amriptal Singh, Kapil Kumra Netra amongst others, who play the naïve and dispassionately obsessed terrorists so chillingly and utterly convincingly.

Hotel Mumbai is a film which is shocking in its brutality, and it is difficult not to sit on the edge of one’s seat, gripping the arm rests in white knuckle fear as the drama unfolds.

With internal shots filmed in Adelaide, this superb film is another feather in the cap for Australian cinema, and Maras brings us as close to being inside the action as it is possible to do outside of a POV shooter video game, right down to the nail biting, fist clenching climax.

The movie highlights the heroism and humanity of ordinary people under pressure, putting into stark relief the human side of the atrocity. This goes for the terrorists as well, and although the organisers of the attacks were never caught, their cold and cynical manipulation of the human pawns they enlisted to do their dirty work is undeniable. There is no glamour or triumphant martyrdom here, just hatred, greed, emptiness and pointless death.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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