Like "World Trade Center" and "United 93" before it, HOTEL MUMBAI is a riveting recreation of a terrifying terrorist attack that will leave you exhausted and furious.
The Taj is a stunning, world class luxury hotel in Mumbai, India. It's staff is 100% committed to their "Guest is God" philosophy, tailoring every room and every stay to the guests wishes before they can even ask.
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) is terrific as Arjun, a young waiter with drive and ambition, living in a tiny home while servicing the uber-wealthy at the Taj. Seeing him at home as he prepares to head into work is a nice touch, deftly handled.
We meet the guests as they arrive for the day. Nanzani Boniai (Homeland) and Armie Hammer (The Social Network) are a young couple with their infant and nanny in tow.
Jason Issacs (The Patriot) is Vasili, a Russian oozing power and attitude.
Director Anthony Maras and his team weave the story well, interspersing guest arrivals with the plans of the group of radical Islamic terrorists staking out spots across Mumbai to stage timed attacks across the city.
The film doesn't shy away from the absurdity of their motives, with their leaders constantly spouting ridiculous promises of virgins in the next life and urging them to kill everyone in sight, including fellow Muslims who have "embraced decadence". WTF are these people thinking? What century is this?
The terrorists open fire at the train station and then across the streets filled with families and citizens, shooting at random with seemingly endless supplies of ammunition and no organized anti-terror force within 800 miles.
The killers find their way to the Taj, where the carefully constructed atmosphere immediately collapses into a bloodbath of panic and horrific loss.
There are moments of real heroism to save others, as we witnessed on 9/11. But there are many more sequences of horror as the killers slay everyone in their path.
As the staff and the guests are thrown into smaller and smaller spaces to try and hide & survive, it's fascinating to watch (with a few exceptions) the lines between rich/poor and cultures evaporate as they join forces.
The assault went on for many hours as the government assembled a force to scramble to the hotel.
Like Paul Greengrass' "United 93", the suspense ties you up in knots, with every senseless death hitting you in the gut.
Patel is very good, as are Hammer, Bonaia and Issacs. Anupam Kher is terrific as renowned chef Hemant Oberoi.
A large amount of the dialogue in the film is recreated word for word from transcripts of all phone conversations during the actual attack, along with witness and survivor accounts.
Another sobering reminder of the world we all live in and the absurd motivations of the radical Muslim extremists that detest our way of life, HOTEL MUMBAI joins "United 93" and "World Trade Center" as powerful film recreations of some of our darkest days.
It's the undeterred power of the human courage and compassion shown during these events that keep us all moving forward.
HOTEL MUMBAI white knuckles its way to an A.