Hotel Mumbai (2018)
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The development of characters was so bland, there were a few worth rooting for. And I guess I am supposed to assume that because someone is rich they don't have any other cares, but for themselves?
Yes, outside of a couple of good performances, the movie basically leaves the audience wondering what really happened. Not a position a filmmaker wants to put their viewers in, especially when the "true story" was simplified to the degree that it was.
It was wonderful to see the staff of the hotel to be honored for their selfless action, and sacrifice, end it was interesting to recognize some of the details surrounding the field rescue. (And the rescue was quite embarrassing for India armed forces and Mumbai police department. Simply disorganized and cowardly, sans a few great men.)
It was also frustrating to see such a negative and adolescent view about religion, as though all religion was responsible for this massacre. Nope. Just a small group of evil men, manipulating young minds w/in violently flawed, bit large minority of fanatic Muslims..
At the end, they finally decided to go out from emergency stairs to outside, by then, again, because of plot, a stupid guest manages to call a news staff (how?) and reveal everyone's location.
Everyone's death in this movie is either by their own mistake or just simply misfortune. The American lady that got shot by the emergency stair, she went out herself after badly injured just to get herself killed.
Everyone could have just go outside in the first 30 minutes in the movie, instead they lock themselves on chambers lounge on the sixth floor, don't understand why.
It's a combination of the 1970's disaster films like "Towering Inferno" gathering an all star cast in the "Grand Hotel" model, and then setting it aflame and blowing it up, all the while murdering people nonstop between the more traditional disaster film explosions.
Even if you can resolve the moral dilemma this raises for the viewer: Getting a thrill at the cost of reconstructing a live terrorist attack, we're both invited to marvel at the luxury of one of the most famous hotel in the World and then have to witness the guests and staff summarily slaughtered. I'm not an opponent of explicit screen violence. I do mind watching "what it was like" for the victims of this massacre for no other reason than being a voyeur..
There's an attempt to weave a narrative thread that intersect or "hook" us emotionally into identifying with certain members of the cast. But it all unfolds so quickly we don't time to really gain an attachment to the "characters" we're given. The film wastes no time into getting down to what we're there to see, tacking on the devotion of the staff to their rich clientele, in a self-sacrificing manner that raises the point the terrorists are there to make. It's a very mixed bag of compromised values and motives that in there repetition give the viewer time to ask why you bought a ticket and is this something that is edifying or exploitive.
The filmmaking itself is mainly set in a soundstage in what we know is actually a famous spatial paradise that the soundstage can't recreate. So we feel boxed in and claustrophobic, but we also can't ever get our bearings on where we are or what's happening where. The use of the actual dialogue between the terrorists and there handlers is chilling. And raises, unintentional sympathy for the perpetrators because they're brain-washed and naïve, being promised payments to their impoverished families for their self-sacrifice. If this was done purposefully, I question whether or not the survivors from the incident would find much solace.
Despite the effort to make this a "nail-biting thriller," anyone even cursory familiar with the incident knows the outcome, and due to the repetitiousness of the killing, my interest flagged several times and I found myself looking at my watch. I suppose I was waiting for the filmmakers to give us a reason they did this project other than to market a recent, actual tragedy and turn it into an action movie.
I have a personal connection to these attacks and while I'm not against films being made on the subject, I feel that there should be something good coming out of them instead of making money and opening up old wounds. The acting was decent and the production values impressive, but the film lacked one important thing - a heart.
Based on a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, Hotel Mumbai captures the siege of a city besieged by gunmen doing an efficient job of killing at least 100 people and shutting down a modern metropolis. The focus is on the fabulous Taj Mahal Hotel, a fitting symbol of modern depravity for these four Pakistani Muslims bent on doing Allah's vengeance.
Director Anthony Maras, along with other writer John Collee, give s personality to a few of the staff and guests: head chef Hemant Oberoi (Annpam Kher) is courage personified as he guides guests out of the mayhem; head waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) has the smarts and valor to do the same; rich American guest David (Armie Hammer) is fearless defending his family. Throughout, class distinctions between guests and staff are preserved, lending another level of accuracy.
Beyond these notable participants are the other usual stereotypes such as the shady but redeemable Russian, the conscience-stricken terrorist, and the scared sister protecting David's baby. However, the use of real news footage on TVs keeps us grounded in the reality.
While these formulaic victims are unavoidable in any disaster film, the filmmakers create tension by cutting between the terrorists randomly and coldly dispatching anyone in sight and the besieged hotel denizens. When David's baby cries in a closet, we fear the terrorists will hear. That's real tension, real terror.
It's hard not to place ourselves in that situation and not empathize with the helpless victims and wonder what courage we would show. Although the women too often cry and many men are cowardly, no way can you leave the theater and not be a little more aware of the vicissitudes of travel abroad and the marvel at your courageous fellow human beings.
Here's a successful, scary thriller and cautionary tale: Danger is out there, no matter where you go.
In capturing the intensity of the siege, director Anthony Maras effectively splits the film's focus between the staff and guests of the hotel in their fight to survive and the role of the perpetrators in co-ordinating the attacks. With the Mumbai police forces completely unprepared for an attack of this magnitude, the reign of terror lasted three days and the film is relentless in its display of gratuitous violence. Near the beginning, bullets scatter across a packed lobby as bodies drop like flies and the attackers continue their march to the upper floors where, room by room, they shoot unsuspecting guests. Thirty-one individuals lost their lives during the chaos and by not shying away from the ugliness of the act, Maras paints an unnerving picture of the callous disregard the terrorist showed their victims.
However, the film's perpetual forward momentum means that the violence slowly becomes desensitising and at times teeters on the edge of exploitative Hollywood action territory. The film uses a fair amount of dramatic license to keep events thrilling and sometimes it seems to paint a real-life event in very broad action strokes. Luckily, any detour into action hero territory is quickly dispelled by a screenplay that presents heroes in all shapes and forms.
Indeed, what stands apart, is the strength of the character portraits that emerge amongst the violence. Dev Patel and Anupam Ker play hotel employees who stand by their colleagues and guests at all costs, while Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi play a married couple who risk it all to protect their child. While the characters may be fictional, it's not hard to imagine numerous stories just like theirs having occurred in real life. Moreover, by interspersing their stories with first hand news footage of the siege, Maras injects an extra element of realism that convincingly ties the film together.
At its core, Hotel Mumbai is a celebration of human resilience and courage in the face of overwhelming evil. By focusing on the humanity amongst the carnage, Hotel Mumbai honours all those who risked, and lost, their lives in the attack.
This is the first feature film from writer-director Anthony Maras, and with his co-writer John Collee (MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, 2003), we are taken to CST, the train station which is one of the 12 terrorist targets. Actual footage is mixed in, leaving no doubt as to the panic and violence that unfolded. As the individuals in the group divide into their well-orchestrated terrorist teams, we flash to the morning routine at a nearby home. Arjun (Dev Patel) is frantically getting prepared for work before heading to his pregnant wife's place of work. He is dropping off their young child since the sitter was a no-show.
Arjun is part of the staff at the prestigious Taj Mahal Hotel Palace, affectionately referred to as "The Taj". The service is impeccable ... to the point of checking the temperature of bath water for one of the guests. Those who stay here are accustomed to and demanding of the very finest. However, on this stay, they will experience the sharp contrast of ultimate luxury and raw terror. As viewers, our guts sense the feeling of dread, even as the hotel managers and staff are welcoming arriving guests such as a retired Russian Special Forces officer turned wealthy playboy (Jason Isaacs) and newlyweds David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi, "Homeland"), along with their newborn baby and nanny Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey).
As the cold-blooded attack is carried out by the terrorists at The Taj, we witness so many innocent people mowed down with precision - some execution style. Many hotel guests find hiding spots, including an exclusive club in the heart of the hotel. The staff, including Arjun and renowned Chef Hermant Oberoi (Anupam Kher), courageously try to survive while also protecting the guests. David and Zahra get separated from each other and from their baby, leaving the nanny desperately trying to keep the oft-crying infant from being heard.
We also witness the local police - undermanned, under-armed, under-trained - try their best to defuse the situation, knowing that Special Forces are "hours away". Courage is on display throughout the film, but this is no Jason Bourne or John McClane scenario. These are cooks and waiters and hotel guests caught in one of the most frightening situations imaginable.
For cinematic effect, the attack seems to take place over the course of a single night, whereas the actual events were over 3 days, resulting in 31 deaths at The Taj. The level of tension is maintained throughout ... it's a well-made thriller centered on actual events and real people. The filmmakers seem to go out of their way to avoid any political, social or religious commentary or insight. We only know the terrorists are told to take American prisoners and "Go and do Jihad". It's described as "indiscriminate terror" and that they are reclaiming what has been taken from them over the years. It is a difficult film to watch, though we understand there will always be bad people doing bad things for what they believe are the right reasons. Fortunately, there will also always be courageous and good people. More than once we hear the staff mention "Guest is God" ... but not all of these guests were welcome.
In late November 2008, a group of ten terrorists arrive in Mumbai, India by a small boat. Upon splitting up, the terrorists travel to various locations around the populated city to massacre as many innocent people as they can. After taking out several civilians in smaller locations, the surviving members of the group meet up at the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to finish their act of terror. While they shoot their way through the hallways, the hotel's staff put their lives in the line of fire in an attempt to save as many guests as possible.
As unflinching as it is jarring, Hotel Mumbai is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that successfully showcases the heroism of the titular hotel's brave staff members in an earnest, collected manner. Despite the film's two hour runtime, not once is it ever boring thanks to the creative direction of Anthony Maras, who puts his audience right at the forefront of the conflict. The film's violence, while not too graphic, is extremely intense as no one is spared from the terrorist's gunfire, not even small children or the elderly. If one can stomach enough of the bloodshed to appreciate this otherwise well-made movie, then it is certainly worth at least one viewing. However, being that this is not for the faint of heart, viewer discretion is strongly advised
I rate it 8.5/10
In general, the entire production quality is higher than any Hong Kong action thrillers today in spite of its slow pacing that caused by overly conscious effort to add some official narrative of US and five eyes mainstream media to this terrorist film. First, the terrorists of the coordinated attacks in Mumbai are played by unknown actors who are not kung fu stars. Instead, the antagonists are more real than any kung fu stars. Typage is successful in cast.
Second, the main issue of this kind of terrorist film after the insider job 911 is that the terrorists are terminator-like robots which seemed as emotionless killing machines. This is what main stream media depict ''terrorist villains'' in WAR ON TERRORISM ''a terror fraud.''
The most important scene is when one of hostages Muslim Iranian-British heiress Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) recites the Muslim player, the paid terrorist, Islam extremist Imran (Amandeep Singh) resists the executing order from the unknown employer via phone. This is an exaggerated anti muslim bias that expressed by the filmmakers on the ''anti terrorist'' propaganda effort. Paid terrorists are not religious saints. They are just doing the job as ''terrorist roles'' in the terror fraud which ordered by mysterious employers in religious covers.
It proves that this film's positioning on the interpretation of the incident is still a bit unstable, and its hesitation resulted in this mixture of different explanations about the back ground of the terror attacks.
Although Zahra plot line is unnecessary and slowing the pace, it still embodies the core of this film.
The official narrative is that evil Muslim terrorists ordered from Afghanistan or Iran or Iraq massacred the Indians in Mumbai and occupied the hotel to get hostages for money. The fictional narrative of this film basically followed the official line however the identity of the employer of the terrorists is vague. This vagueness is the most important point and difference from the official narrative. However, this vagueness does not serve revealing the entire background context which completely out of this film's storytelling.
The truth is that these paid terrorists are double agents of CIA who conducted the terror fraud in India to threat India and demonise oppositions of US imperialism, such as great muslim countries, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan at the same time. The true narrative of this Mumbai attacks is far from the official narrative and fictional reality of this film.
The most trusted media of Russia RT already published the amazingly profound analysis on this issue in 2009.
US citizen David Headley, who was arrested in connection with last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks, may have been a double agent for the CIA at the time of the incident, according to US journalists.
More than 160 people were killed in the financial hub of Mumbai in three days of attacks by a group of 10 gunmen, beginning on November 26, 2008.
Headley had allegedly helped plan the attack by conducting reconnaissance missions in Mumbai.
More than two months after Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley was held in Chicago, India's intelligence services are divided on whether they were told the whole truth about the Lashkar-e-Taiba clandestine agent's operations. Many in the intelligence services even suspect that the United States is less than committed to letting the whole truth be known.
Public debate has focused on claims that Headley-who served as a Drug Enforcement Administration informant after being arrested with two kg of heroin in 1988-may have been planted by US covert services inside Lashkar after his release in 2002.
"If this David Headley was working for the CIA all along, which is a very plausible conclusion," says writer and journalist Webster Tarpley, "It means that the CIA implicated and was running and masterminding the Mumbai terror attack of 2008."
Thus, the employer of Imran must be CIA. In reality, the 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks were CIA's terror fraud job like other US-Israel-NATO backed IS terrorist attacks world wide. Anyway this film is really a good action thriller despite its political centralist vagueness.
I thought the movie was superb from beginning to end and I urge any person who has an interest in contemporary history to see this beauty. Hotel Mumbai is incinerating from start to end. You must know so many movies lead the viewer to the edge of a pit, leave the viewer there and then resolves the tension with the movie ending soon after. This film, however, leads the viewer to virtually innumerable pits from beginning to end; the stress is never relinquished.
My dear wife tolerated this film; it is not precisely a "chick flic" and she endured it only because we were together. She disliked it for all the reasons I enumerated above. Diane thought that it was too violent-actually nonstop with very few quiet points in between.
Regardless of these two very divergent opinions of Hotel Mumbai, I think it is well worth seeing. As I mentioned earlier if you have any interest in current events you owe it to yourself to watch this brilliant film.