Hotel Mumbai opens this weekend and is based on four days of terrorist attacks in India shortly after Barrack Obama was elected president. Unlike the fantasy heroics of Die Hard, Hotel Mumbai captures the historical fear of people under captivity.
The film opens with a dozen terrorists from Pakistan rowing a rubber raft to the financial center of India, the city of Mumbai. Inside the Hotel Mumbai, we are introduced to the staff who believes that customer service means treating the guests as gods.
The godly guests are an international assortment of characters. Armie Hammer portrays an American who married into Indian royalty and is the father of a baby boy. Jason Isaacs portrays a Russian who delights in prostitutes and fine alcohol. In contrast, Dev Patel portrays a father who desperately needs to work at the Hotel Mumbai on this fateful day.
The action is swift, sudden and unexpected. It is an organized and coordinated attack, but with random targets. Given that the Special Forces unit is eight hours away, the Hotel Mumbai is a soft target. The suspense and terror feel real for the victims in hiding, who overheard the cold blooded directions of some mastermind seeking the most public executions possible.
Director Anthony Maras makes strong use of silence and noise. He also tampers with the nerves of viewers who suffer from either acrophobia or claustrophobia. While Hammer, Isaacs and Patel are the most recognizable actors, Hotel Mumbai is an ensemble masterpiece.
Hotel Mumbai is a tough, but important motion picture to watch for historical reasons. For those who forget the lessons of history, one is condemned to repeat them. It was only four years later that American ambassadors were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, which was documented in the underrated movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Both movies remind us that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.