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Film / Hotel Mumbai

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Hotel Mumbai is a 2018 action thriller film directed by Anthony Marras. It is based on the real events of the 2008 when a group of terrorists made the series of attacks across Mumbai (now known as 26/11). The film is hugely inspired by the 2009 documentary Surviving Mumbai that tells about the same events.

The film follows several characters played by the prominent Hollywood actors. Arjun (Dev Patel) is one of the workers of the Taj Hotel who tries his best to keep people in safe, while an American David (Armie Hammer), his British-Muslim wife Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) and a Russian businessman Vasili (Jason Isaacs) are among the guests that are trapped in the hotel which is occupied by the group of terrorists.

The film got fairly positive reception from the critics and the general audience.


Tropes used by the film:

  • Adult Fear: David and Zahra are very afraid of the possibility of their kid getting killed in the terrorist attack. This kicks off the whole plot line of David going through the hotel to save their child.
  • Agony of the Feet: Early in the film, Arjun is forced to wear a too-small pair of shoes at work. Later on, after a lot of crouching around and running, we see him take them off, showing some nasty blisters underneath.
  • Anyone Can Die: Bree, David and Vasili all are fairly important characters that got killed off by the terrorists. This is not counting dozens of minor ones.
  • Based on a True Story: Based on a real series of terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All of the terrorists that attacked the hotel are killed. The other terrorists attacking other sites in Mumbai are also killed with the sole survivor being captured by police. Arjun, Zahra, Sally, Cameron, Eddie, DC Vam, his partner and Oberoi all survive. Arjun safely returns to his family and Zahra reunites with Sally and Cameron. Not only that but the Taj Hotel eventually re-opens sometime afterward. However, hundreds of innocent people were killed, including David, Bree and Vasili and many survivors are injured and/or traumatized. Eddie lost his girlfriend, Zahra lost her husband, Cameron lost his father and both Arjun and Oberoi lost nearly half of their hotel staff. Also the orchestrators of the attacks remain unpunished.
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  • Boom, Headshot!: Unfortunately, Vasili and David meet their end this way.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The terorrists’ boss orders to keep some rich Americans alive to demand a ransom. It saves David, Zahra and Vasili. Unfortunately, this becomes the case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness a bit later.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The NSG commandos only arrive to subdue the terrorists 12 hours after the initial attacks, as they had to be brought all the way from Delhi and deploying them meant ceding control over the incident site from the state/municipal government to the central government, which involved a lot of negotiation and red tapes. By the time they arrive, hundreds of innocent people were already killed by the terrorists including Bree and two main characters: Vasili and David.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: The terrorists amp themselves with narcotic pills right before starting the attack, which contributes to their Hair-Trigger Temper and erratic behaviour throughout.
  • Composite Character: Actually, most of the characters are made up for the film and composed of several real people. For example, Arjun is made up from the waiter who turned off the lights in the reustarant to hide the guests and the other worker who helped the police officers to get into the CV room. The only real person used in the film are Taj Hotel’s chef Oberoi who is a respected and well-known chef in India, and Ajmal Kasab, the sole survivor among the terrorists who was captured in another part of the city (and hence only appears briefly).
  • Crowd Panic: Oberoi, Arjun and the other staff of the Hotel try their best to avoid that. They handle it well, despite several minor incidents.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Vasili is an Afghan War veteran.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Several guests choose to leave the (currently) safe area of the lounge, preferring to take their chances making a break for the exit rather than waiting and hoping the terrorists don't come back.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Vasili, badly injured and tied up on the floor, uses his last breath to lunge at a terrorist's leg and sinks his teeth into his calf. It takes a Boom, Headshot! to get his teeth out of the guy's leg.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The massacre in the cafe shows that the terrorists are ruthless and don’t leave anyone alive. If you didn’t get it then, you would when they break into a hotel room only to murder a harmless old woman that ran away from them a few minutes ago.
    • Arjun wearing the shoes that are clearly too small for him establishes he’s ready to endure inconvenience to get his job done.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Imran loves his family very much and is clearly loved in return, even as they apparently knew about and support his being trained as a jihadi.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A minor case. The terrorists are ruthless and bloodthirsty, but one of them named Imran is very disturbed by the demand of his boss to check out the bra of a dead woman for the documents and later is reluctant to kill a Muslim woman.
  • Face Death with Dignity: David faces his death rather calmly, telling his wife he loves her.
  • Family Man: Arjun and David are both loving husbands and fathers.
  • Fire-Forged Friendship: Zahra and Vasili become friends in their way of surviving the attack.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Vasili tells Zahra to cover her head so the terrorists could know she’s a Muslim. Later her conversation through the phone in Persian becomes a cause of concern of the another woman. A prayer in Arabic is what ultimately saves her life as Imran couldn’t kill a praying Muslim woman.
    • Averted with Zahra’s letter to David she’d written in case she dies. She’s ultimately the one who survives.
  • Heel Realization: Imran, one of the terrorists, gets this after he receives several orders that contradict his religious views and he gets to know that his family didn’t receive any money, so he understood that they are used by the orchestrators of the attack for their own corrupted goals. Also it’s too late for the sudden change of mind after all the atrocities he's committed, so he chooses Suicide by Cop.
  • Hero Killer: Imran is the one in the sense of a movie plot as he is the one who kills David and Vasili who are among the film’s main protagonists. Unusually for this trope, he's no more of an unstoppable force of destruction than any of the other bad guys, and actually spends a lot of the film badly injured and is the only terrorist shown doubting himself.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Bree is revealed to be alive after being shot early in the movie and Arjun is trying to get her out of the building. Unfortunately, a sudden encounter with cops scares her so she runs away and is killed off-screen a few minutes later.
    • Also when David, Zahra and Vasili are taken as hostages it seems like they have a chance of actually getting out of this alive. Wrong. They are ordered to be killed and Zahra is the only one of them who survives.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Vasili may be rude, obnoxious and somewhat racist, but he is very protective of Zahra and ready to risk his life for the people he barely knows.
  • Karma Houdini: Although all of the attackers are killed, the orchestrators behind the attacks remain unpunished.
  • Lack of Empathy: The terrorists kill anyone moving. Anyone.
  • Language Barrier: The gunmen largely only speak Punjabi, relying on their handlers to translate the simplest English phrases for them.
  • Nice Guy: Arjun is kind, polite, selfless and just nice to anyone he meets.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The only time Arjun loses his cool is when a hotel guest calls the reporters outside for help, revealing their location to the terrorists.
  • Papa Wolf: David is ready to risk his life and get through the hotel full of murderous terrorists to save his little child.
  • Police Are Useless: Downplayed. Government forces are useless during the most part of the film as they have orders not to escalate things, so the staff and the guests are on their own. However there is a subplot about two police officers, who get into the building, distract the terrorist from breaking into the room full of people and severely injure one of them. It's explicitly mentioned that Mumbai law enforcement are quite simply not trained or equipped for a coordinated attack by trained killers with military-grade weapons, and the special forces who could deal with them are hours away.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: A minor case with Vasili who calls Zahra “one of them” early in the movie and make several racist remarks to piss off the terrorists. He also shows quite a lot of casual sexism when it comes to having sex with women, but doesn't hesitate to risk his life for Zahra either.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The terrorists are all very young, but also act very immaturely at times; there is no contradiction for them between executing a helpless old woman as she hides in a toilet, and then squeeing over the first flushing toilet they've seen. Likewise, one trolls another into thinking the food he just tried was pork, before revealing it was only vegetables, and then turning round gun blazing when he hears a noise. They also have extremely short tempers and get frustrated very quickly by the language barrier between them and the (terrified and compliant) hostages.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chef Oberoi is shown as a strict but fair boss.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor Bree is killed off to show that anyone in danger if you didn’t get it earlier.
  • Sacrificial Lion: David and Vasili are among the main characters of the film. They are killed off before the special forces even could get into the building.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • David is the main American character of the film and he makes his way through the hotel to save his child and Sally, who is a nanny of a said child. So we are expected that he succeeds and may even play a bigger role in the conflict resolution. Wrong. He fails at bringing them to the safe zone (albeit his actions ultimately help them get out of this alive) and dies rather a pointless death.
    • Also the case with Zahra and Vasili who left a safe zone to find David. Vasili gets killed because of it and Zahra survives only because of being a Muslim. Her attempt to find Sally and Cameron also ends up as a fail as she could have just waited for them in the safe zone.
  • Suicide by Cop: Imran makes the police shoot him after a Heel Realization.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: This being 2008, the wealthy hotel guests have the then-new iPhones, while the staff and attackers still use bar phones.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The terrorists entering Mumbai on a boat is the first scene of the movie.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The terrorists' controller, Brother Bull, guides them through their mission by monitoring news media and internet coverage of the scene.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Would shoot a girl in case of the terrorists.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: David, Zahra and Vasili are left alive to demand a ransom for them. Unfortunately, after the special forces come to save the day, the orchestrators have a change of mind and instruct the terrorists to kill the hostages. David and Vasili are killed off and Zahra is left alive by pure luck.
  • Your Mom: Vasili to his captors:
    Brother Bull: [over the phone] You will die for what you did in Afghanistan.
    Vasili: You know what I did in Afghanistan? I fucked your mother. I fucked your sister, you prick!

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