Hotel Mumbai

It’s unfortunate for the Australian film company that produced this, that it was just a few weeks ago that a few mosques in New Zealand were shot up.

I had to do research to find out how many died in this terrorist attack, and it was 174 over four days; over 300 were wounded.

This is all based on the 2008 Pakistani terrorist attack in Mumbai, and it made me wonder who would want to spend a night out watching two hours of people being shot in all different ways? It basically became a gratuitous action picture, with the usual cliches (many elements were fictionalized). The worst was a woman hiding in a closet with her crying baby that she needs to keep quiet. Through the rest of the movie, her character and the baby just made me think of Alan Alda and the crying baby in the last episode of M*A*S*H*.

I’ve had debates with a critic that hates all movies based on the Holocaust (even Schindler’s List). He thinks entertainment should not be made out of such an atrocity, and that popped into my mind while watching this.

The cast is surprisingly strong, in what they’re given to do (looking happy, scared, sad). Anupam Kher starts off as the tough head of the kitchen staff, but even early on we see he has a heart. He’s about to send one employee home (Dev Patel) for not having the proper footwear (well, no shoes at all); but after he pleads about the fact that his wife is having a baby and he needs the money, he’s allowed to stay. Kher’s character does a lot nicer things as the film progresses (and the body count rises).

Jason Isaacs plays a rich Russian that, has an idiotic scene in the beginning. He’s looking at pictures of pretty escorts at the table he’s dining at, ordering two women up to his room. He doesn’t even care about mentioning the features he prefers, loud enough for other customers to hear. Yet once the shooting starts, he shows kindness to a scared woman who is initially accused of working with the terrorists.

Speaking of accusations, there’s a surprisingly touching moment when Dev’s character senses a rich, older woman being suspicious of him. He explains that he’s a Sikh, and why he wears the turban and what it means to him.

“But here, you’re our guest,” he tells her. “And if it will make you feel more comfortable, I’ll take it off.”

If only the movie had more moments like that.

The rest of the solid cast is rounded out by Nazanin Boniadi, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, and Armie Hammer.

Perhaps the fact that we just see glimpses of characters, it didn’t have the emotional impact it should have. Maybe if we saw more of the concerned family members that weren’t trapped at the hotel, or the kitchen staff, instead of most of the time being given to Hammer’s character and his plight.

The Mumbai locales are used nicely.

2  stars out of 5.

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