First Hit: It was interesting enough from a historical perspective but didn’t engage because it was a predictable and a known story.
When this attack happened, India was caught off guard. The real-life consequences of not having the type of policing or counterterrorism task force required to deal with the this coordinated assault was that it caused at least 174 deaths.
In November of 2008, ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group executed a coordinated attack on Hindus in twelve locations throughout Mumbai, the financial center of India. The attack lasted four days. This film shows brief scenes of the shootings from some of the other locations, however the main target was The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is a five-star hotel where the guest is king, and this is where most of scenes are filmed.
The terrorists are coaxed on, and being guided by, a voice on the phone through the headsets worn by the men. He encourages them to kill anyone they see without mercy. However, he’s also looking for these men to take western prisoners for “negotiating purposes.” The audience knows there won’t be real negotiations and the captured will die.
Among the captured are David (Armie Hammer) who is married to Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi). The are traveling with their young baby who’s being taken care of by their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey).
The film makes an emphatic point of the ruthlessness of the machine gun armed terrorists by having them coldly shoot anyone they see. They attempt kill anyone who moves, except for the few they want to capture and hold to gain additional publicity because they are prominent or wealthy figures.
One of the captured is Vasili (Jason Isaacs) who is a former Russian special forces specialist. His redeeming scene is when he ferociously bites the achilleas of one of the terrorists.
However, the main star of this film is Arjun (Dev Patel) who works in the hotel as a waiter. He’s a Sikh which comes into play later in the story. He and the head chef Oberol (Anupam Kher) attempt to save some of the hotel’s guest from being killed by hiding them in a exclusive room with only one public way in. The story is about how these people were saved.
Overall, Patel was good in this role. One outstanding scene was the way he explained his Sikh hair covering to one of the concerned and ill-informed guests. Kher was excellent as the Head Chef in holding to his belief that the hotel’s “guests are god.” Hammer was good as the American who was married to a Muslim woman. His desire to protect his family was spot on. Boniadi was wonderful as Hammer’s wife. When she starts saying prayers in front of the terrorists, it becomes very tense — one of the best scenes in the film. Cobham-Hervey was outstanding as the nanny. She felt very genuine in her desire to protect the child from harm. Isaacs was very good as the overindulgent selfish Russian operative who finally does something for someone else. The entire cadre of actors playing the terrorists did a sublime job of making sure they were cold hearted and unrelenting in their role of killing people for a golden ticket to heaven. John Collee and Anthony Maras wrote a interesting script. Maras directed this film which included actual scenes from the actual attack.
Overall: I wasn’t as captured or engaged as I thought I might be.