3 Stars – Thought-Provoking

hotel mumbai.jpg

 Hotel Mumbai takes you through the mind-numbing events in 2008 when a group of young terrorists follow the leadership of a vengeful religious leader and commit murder for the sake of heavenly treasure.  In November 2008, 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organization based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai.  The most notable attack was on one of the most famous hotels in the world and lasted four days.

This story follows the brave men and women of the staff of the hotel who put their lives on the line to save their guests from unspeakable horror.  Many did not make it out alive.  In this example of heroism, the world-renown head chef, Hermont Obern (Anupam Kher), and a lowly waiter named Arjun (Dev Patel), lead a few guests through the back labyrinth of the hotel over a 4-day period trying desperately to avoid being detected.  Meanwhile, the terrorists went door-to-door in the hotel pretending to be helpers, and when the guests open their doors, they mowed them down in a flurry of bullets.

Shocking as it may seem in a big city, Mumbai had no tactical police force to counter-attack the rebels.  It took four days to get an army of tactical soldiers in from New Delhi over 800 miles away.  In the end, over 100 people died, half of which were members of the staff.  Although 9 of the 10 terrorists were killed in the battle, the perpetrators in Pakistan have never been identified or captured.

The horror of this kind of action is unthinkable to people who live in western culture.  It is so antithetical to the Christian world view that it seems utterly demonic.  And yet, there are stories throughout the Biblical narrative in the Old Testament where the people of God were instructed to wipe out the “enemies of God” down to every man, woman, child, and their cattle.  What makes this any different? 

Setting aside the religious arguments, the world of law that is predominate throughout the globe gives sanctity to the life of individuals, even though this concept is violated every day.  The cruelty of religious zealots – whether Christian, Jewish, Muslin, or Hindu – are rejected by over 90% of the religious leaders and their faith-filled followers throughout the world.  In the case of the attack on the Hotel in Mumbai, the core of the motivation was intently revenge and anger covered in a veneer of religious belief.  With this as it’s basis, this was an attack of pure evil rather than religious devotion.

Needless to say, as gripping as this story is, it is not one for the weak at heart or for children.  For those who can see the film objectively, it is a study in contrasting views of the world where both sides think they are right, even if the acts they commit seem horribly wrong.  In the aftermath of the 2008 attack, the hotel was rebuilt and reopened five years later, and operates today as if the attack is ancient history.


  1. The teachings of Jesus in the New Testament are that we are to love our enemies and do good to all.  How do you see this as different from the teaching of the Old Testament?  Has God changed or have we come to a more loving understanding?

  2. As noted the faiths of the world reject this cruel extremism yet acts of terror and cruelty are often done with a veneer of religious motivation.  Why do you think this is true?

  3. Becoming a hero is most often the result of the need for someone to stand up against evil.  What evil are you now standing against?


Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary.  Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is the former pastor of the Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara and the former Lead Superintendent of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California. For more reviews:

Posted on April 17, 2019 and filed under 3 STARS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING.