CREDIT: Mark Rogers/Bleecker Street

Starring: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Jason Isaacs, Amandeep Singh

Director: Anthony Maras

Running Time: 125 Minutes

Rating: R for Constant Deadly Gunfire and Plenty of Profanity

Release Date: March 22, 2019 (Limited)

A lot of real-life historical tragedies have been dramatized on screen, but rarely has it felt as exploitative as it does in Hotel Mumbai. Part of that is due to the deadly nature of the attacks, in which hundreds of people were killed or injured by explosives and gunfire, often at close range. It is also attributable to director Anthony Maras’ decision to show so many of the deaths in graphic, bloody detail. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that culminated at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel were indeed quite terrifying, but what does this dramatization illuminate besides reminding us that tragedies like this one have happened and that they are often fueled by religious extremism?

If there is to be anything valuable on offer here, it would presumably be about forging some sort of connection with the characters. And on that score, there are people that I care about and are rooting to make it out alive, but their stories are not especially unique. Among those with the most fully fleshed-out arcs, there is the guest (Armie Hammer) who is trying to protect his family, the hotel employee (Dev Patel) who is trying to make it home to his family, and the head chef (Anupam Kher) who rises up as a leader and comforter. These roles are well-acted, and some (if not all) are surely based on real people, but their stories do not say much beyond, “This is how certain people react to trauma.” But among the perpetrators (all young men who look to be in their early twenties) there is Imran (Amandeep Singh), who starts to question what he is fighting for as the mission drags on. That is where the real, complicated story is at, but alas, his personal crisis only gets a handful of moments, leaving Hotel Mumbai an endurance test without much to mentally grapple with after making it through.

Hotel Mumbai is Recommended If You Like: Witnessing trauma

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Casualties

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