Hotel Mumbai could have been a callous cash grab, trying to entice us with thrills and action. Fortunately it is not, it is treated with reverence, not just for the victims but for the city of Mumbai and its effect on humanity.
Based on terrifying real life events of terrorists attacking sites in Mumbai, the focus is on the staff and patrons of the Taj Hotel as they try to navigate around the terrorists and escape. The staff represented mainly by Dev Patel (Lion) and Anupam Kher (The Big Sick) who really stand out in an already great cast while Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and Nazanin Boniadi (Counterpart) represent the wealthy patrons. Again, the focus isn’t on one person being a hero, in fact when those moments arise they are met with inevitable and brutal defeat.
Often times the brutality and viciousness of the attacks are hard to watch, as innocent victims are mowed down in the hallways and suites of the hotel. These are not played for thrills, the first time feature director Anthony Maras goes out of his way to show the callous nature of the gunmen, groomed and bred for the sole purpose of killing. The reason this works, and the reason it doesn’t cross over into exploitation is the realism brings to the forefront the main issue, the lack of humanity. The real hero of this story is humanity, the will to survive. It’s a direct opponent of cruelty and the heroic actions of the staff, the people of Mumbai show that we are capable of overcoming great odds, we don’t need to be a white handsome shining knight. Just regular humans with regular jobs, doing what they had to do to survive. Doing the right thing. Pass it on.