Hotel Mumbai Parent Guide
This is not a movie for the sensitive, anxious or squeamish. Brutal, unrelenting violence illustrates the true horror of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Parent Movie Review
When Arjun (Dev Patel), a young father, comes in to work late and without his shoes at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, he begs his boss to let him finish the shift - his pregnant wife could give birth any day, and he needs the money. Unfortunately for him and the other staff and guests, four young Pakistani radicals have infiltrated the hotel as part of a coordinated attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, and open fire on anyone unfortunate enough to be in the hotel. Worse still, the local police don’t have a tactical unit, and the nearest one is hours away in Delhi. For Arjun and the other besieged staff, the decision to stay and protect their guests puts their lives immediately at risk, and the terrorists can move quickly without any police interference.
Let’s get something out of the way before we get going: Hotel Mumbai is not a movie for the sensitive, anxious, or squeamish. With brutal, unrelenting violence, the entire movie is riddled with tension and anxiety as characters try to hide or escape from the gunmen. The fatal consequences for failing to do so are never far off and are shown frequently and in detail. I lost count of how many people are murdered on screen, but it’s a lot. Imagine if the Omaha Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan were two hours long - that should give you some idea of the level of brutality in this film.
One of my primary concerns with this film is, believe it or not, the title. From what I can find, the Hotel has never been referred to as “Hotel Mumbai”, nor is it in the film, and it seems that the title was chosen deliberately to elicit a comparison with Hotel Rwanda. These movies do share some elements – politically motivated violence, for example - but it strikes me as crass to try to brand movies this way. There’s no upside in comparing terrorist attacks to state sponsored genocide and doing so only seems to disrespect the victims of both events.
That aside, the movie is competently made, although there are too many characters to really delve into any of them. This is balanced by the fact that their motivations are believable enough that they’re still compelling and relatable. The camera work is simple, but it does a good job of focusing the tension so that the characters’ actions feel motivated and clear. The sound design is also a huge asset in this area, frequently shifting from deafening to ominously silent.
While this certainly isn’t a family movie, or a good pick for date night, Hotel Mumbai does a good job of bringing a tragedy to life. By focusing on the unarmed protagonist’s emotions, rather than making an action movie about a police takedown, the filmmakers have managed to make two hours of carnage feel far more real than they otherwise would.Directed by Anthony Maras. Starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, and Nazanin Boniadi. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release March 22, 2019. Updated March 30, 2019
Watch the trailer for Hotel Mumbai
Rating & Content Info
Why is Hotel Mumbai rated R? Hotel Mumbai is rated R by the MPAA for disturbing violence throughout, bloody images, and language
Violence: These is an extremely violent, often gory movie with explicit scenes of death and suffering. Throughout the film, dozens of people are shot, both fatally and non-fatally, and these shootings are frequently shown with a great deal of blood. An individual suffers a compound leg fracture after jumping out of a window. A person falls from a high window, presumably to their death. An individual is shown with a bloody and oozing blister. Several individuals are brutally beaten. A person is bitten by another person. Several individuals are killed in a large explosion.
Sexual Content: No sex or nudity is shown. An individual is implied to be hiring prostitutes, but they are never shown. A woman is shown in her underwear before takin a shower, in which she is only seen from the neck up.
Profanity: There is frequent use of profanity in all categories. Some of these are not in English, but are subtitled. There are approximately 20 sexual expletives, a dozen terms of deity (Christian and Muslim), and about 10 curse words. There is also a fair bit of name colling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: No drugs are shown or discussed. Characters are shown ordering alcohol or having a drink with dinner. Later in the film, some characters are shown drinking to cope with stress and trauma. A man is seen smoking.
Page last updated March 30, 2019
Hotel Mumbai Parents' Guide
The Mumbai terror attacks were committed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based terrorist group responsible for numerous assaults on India. Advocating a fundamentalist Islamic theology, this group wishes to create an Islamic state in the subcontinent and to “free” Muslims living in the Indian state of Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba isn’t the only religiously motivated terror group – groups related to many religions have launched religiously and politically motivated assaults on civilian populations. From the Catholic Irish Republican Army to Hindu groups categorized as Saffron terror to the Jewish Defense League to the Islamist Al Qaeda, terrorist groups have sprung from distortions of many religious traditions. What do you think motivates religious people who get involved in violence? Do you think it is religions itself? Or do you think the underlying causes are political or economic?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For more information about the Mumbai terror attacks, you can turn to Black Tornado, by Sandeep Unnithan. This book gives an in-depth (albeit somewhat dry) account of the law enforcement response to the events of 26/11. For a more personal account, you can turn to The Siege: 68 Hours Inside the Taj Hotel by journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy. Focusing almost entirely on the Taj Hotel, this book provides an incredibly detailed record of what occurred from the perspective of the guests and staff of the hotel.
A first person account of politically motivated slaughter is told in Romeo Dallaire’s account of the Rwandan genocide, “Shake Hands with the Devil”.
If you are interested in a religious response to sectarian violence, you will want to read Not in God’s Name by Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Related home video titles:
If you aren’t too depressed by this film and want more movies about politically motivated violence, you can try the PG-13 rated Hotel Rwanda. For a documentary look at the Rwandan genocide, you will definitely want to watch Shake Hands with the Devil, the story of Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian Lieutenant-General in charge of the UN forces in the country.Titanic. Pirates attack in Captain Phillips. And hostage takers are in control