November 26, 2008. Ten
jihadist terrorists land in an inflatable speedboat at Mumbai, all with
backpacks and audio devices in their ears.
All are in constant communication with the “Bull,” their
commander, hiding somewhere in Pakistan.
The nine men splash to shore quietly, and quickly take taxis to
their separate destinations: a
railway station, a cafe, a hospital: twelve
locations in all. The men are
all young, and all single. They
have no families back home. In
fact, they fully expect never to return home, because they are fighting
for Allah against the infidel, and they are going to Paradise.
What follows is pure carnage. Armed
with AK-47s, grenades, and I.E.D.'s, the unsmiling, determined young men
simply slaughter everyone in sight, while a stunned metropolis is frozen
with fear and uncertainty. It
turns out their local police force does not have a trained S.W.A.T. Unit;
they have to be dispatched from New Delhi.
The few local police who do venture into the hotel are themselves
mercilessly dispatched, outgunned and unprepared.
The movie focuses on the hotel known as the “Taj Mahal” of
Mumbai, where the setting is exquisite and the service is extraordinary,
because it is filled with rich tourists, the kind of people who the Bull
insists are robbing Muslims of their rightful heritage.
The many wait staff are merely accomodators to the infidel, so
they, too, need eliminating.
DirectorAnthony Maras at first alternates between the sublime
preparations of the Engligh-speaking waitstaff at the hotel, as they dish
out gourmet food, and line up for “hand inspection” by the chief chef.
We follow one of the kitchen workers, Arjun (Dev Patel), as he says
goodbye to his young child and pregnant wife, and rides his motor scooter
to his coveted job, only to find that one of his dress shoes has fallen
out of his carrying case. He
reports for duty in his socks and slides, which the chief chef says is
unacceptable, and orders him to go back home.
Arjun begs to stay, pleading he has a young family to support, and
finally his boss relents, saying there's an extra pair in his office.
Except they're too small, and Arjun quickly wears huge blisters on
his feet, and noticably limps. On
any other day, maybe that wouldn't have mattered so much, but on this day,
it was a considerable impediment.
Though there are many rich patrons at the hotel, we focus on a
handsome couple, David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nanzanin Boniadi),with a
young child and an “au pere,” Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) in tow.
They get separated from each other in the bedlam and confusion, and
take considerable risks to reunite during the horrific ordeal, which lasts
hours, because help is not coming. The
dead are just left where they dropped, blood pooling beneath them, inside
the hotel. Receptionists are
captured to call individual rooms so the patrons will open the door; if
they refuse, they are shot. A
few wealthy-looking patrons are captured and brought to a separate room,
which they think means that ransom will be demanded, but it's actually
just so their executions can be cruelly recorded.
Arjun and a few of the staff who stay behind manage to gather some
of the guests in a private dining room, but there, too, they are
discovered, and hunted down. It's
a grim tale of horrific hide-and-seek, and difficult to watch.
The masterminds were never caught.
The casualties numbered in the hundreds.
Nine of the terrorists got their wish and died in the attack; only
one was captured. Yes, there's
some incidents of bravery, and touching affection in the face of grave
danger, but mostly, it's just senseless slaughter, chillingly depicted as
a solemn warning about the precariously dangerous place our world has