Sky's Hotel Mumbai Review
A real coup for Sky, this day-and-date theatrical release is a relentlessly tense dramatisation of the horrific terrorist attack in India.This 2018 drama has already been released Stateside, but it hits UK cinemas this week, securing a simultaneous release on Sky, which is a win for those with a package - even NowTV - and is easily the best film that the Group have funded under their Sky Cinema Original Films banner.
Based on the terrifying - unbelievable - events of 2008, Hotel Mumbai marks the directorial debut of Australian filmmaker Anthony Maras, who fashions a powerfully tense feature which wisely builds rounded characters at the outset before unleashing almost slasher movie horror upon them; this isn't a hero-saves-the-day action movie a la Die Hard, but more akin to a violent thriller or possibly even outright horror as basically a bunch of demented serial killers clinically execute dozens of people and hunt the survivors who have to come up with increasingly clever ways to stay alive.
This isn't a hero-saves-the-day action movie a la Die Hard, but more an outright horrorThe Hotel Mumbai is a 5 star hotel where the staff value their clients above all else - "the Guest is God" - seeing Jason Isaacs' (Star Trek: Discovery) rich Russian, and celebrated couple Armie Hammer (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Nazazin Boniadi (Homeland) treated like veritable royalty by head chef Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook) and eager servant Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) who needs the job because he has a baby on the way. When a group of terrorists starts shooting up key locations in Mumbai, converging on the hotel to basically execute everybody inside, it falls upon a desperate few who escape the initial assault to figure out a way of surviving the long night ahead.
Not wholly unlike Paul "Bourne" Greengrass' recent Netflix drama 22 July, Hotel Mumbai is an almost unbearably tense exploration of the events that unfolded on that fateful day, following a disparate group of individuals trapped in a veritable hell, systematically hunted and - if caught - brutally executed without hesitation, whether man, woman or child. It's both unpleasantly 'impressive' and sickeningly horrifying that such a small group of cowardly people could kill this many people with almost no one to stop them.
A tremendous coup for Sky, who afford their first bona fide cinema-worthy release from the comfort of your own home
Superbly acted across the board, and well cast - the celebrity faces help sell some of the twists and turns and shocking horror of it all - with Patel in particular on great form, and Isaacs making the most of an initially unpleasant cameo, this is a very strong directorial debut indeed, promising the potential for some great work going forward. Maras somehow finely juggles real-life events with powerful dramatisation, using a bevvy of impossibly gripping setpieces, to maintain tension across the two hour runtime - which is no small feat. As stated, it's almost horror-movie levels of stalk-and-kill suspense, married up with a disaster-movie vibe when it comes down to the sheer desperation of trying to survive.
It's also a tremendous coup for Sky, who afford their first bona fide cinema-worthy release (after a flawed-at-best, utter-misfire-at-worst earlier run that included the likes of Final Score, Anon, Hurricane Heist and the nonsensical Serenity) from the comfort of your own home. For two hours you'll be utterly engrossed. Highly recommended.
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