Review: Hotel Mumbai

Tilda Cobham-Hervey in Hotel Mumbai.

Hotel Mumbai

Directed by Anthony Maras
Written by John Collee and Anthony Maras
Starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Nazanin Boniadi and Jason Isaacs
Produced by Basil Iwanyk, Gary Hamilton, Mike Gabrawy, Julie Ryan, Andrew Ogilvie and Jomon Thomas

“A heart-pounding, blood-soaked, white-knuckle nightmare of the highest quality.”


by Matthew Eeles

Hotel Mumbai is a rare Australian film: a heart-pounding, blood-soaked, white-knuckle nightmare of the highest quality. It’s a major achievement for a first-time feature filmmaker and one which will rocket director Anthony Maras from the world of politically charged Australian shorts to the big, bright lights of international cinema.

The intensity of Hotel Mumbai is relentless. You won’t be released from its powerful grip until long after the credits have rolled. Even when the film does settle itself from thunderous gunfire and spine-chilling screams of mercy, you’ll remain on the edge of your seat, jaw dropped, tears welling in your eyes as desperate characters attempt to escape an unimaginable horror.

The scenario is based on real life terror attacks in Mumbai, focusing on the events that took place at the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in 2008. 174 people were murdered in cold blood when ten gunmen burst into the hotel on a mission to kill as many people as they could. The siege went on for four days.

Armie Hammer in Hotel Mumbai.

Representing the victims in the film are four main characters: Dev Patel’s waiter Arjun, Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi’s new parents David and Zahra and their nanny Sally, played by the always impressive Tilda Cobham-Hervey. This film wouldn’t work as well as it does if these key performances weren’t as exceptional as they are. Hammer is a particular standout – He’s a serious actor and it’s a wonder he’s not Clooney/Pitt big by now.

There’s no doubt Hotel Mumbai will be criticised for being the absolute bloodbath that it is, and it’s completely understandable why this film will be too much to endure for some viewers. But Anthony Maras has expertly crafted a well-balanced piece of shocking cinema, where there are no heroes, just villains and victims, as is often the case in real life. He has balanced this piece with flawless precision and the young director deserves nothing but praise.

Australian cinema is rarely this powerful.

Hotel Mumbai is in cinemas nationally from March 14, 2019.

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