Monkey Man (2024)

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Movie Reviews, New In Theaters | 0 comments

Monkey Man is an outrageously ambitious debut from director Dev Patel who takes the revenge genre to India & holds nothing back as he battles for blood! Since he burst onto the scene with his rousing performance in Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel has quietly built a solid resume that’s seen him tackle TV in The Newsroom with Aaron Sorkin, leading other terrific films like The Green Knight and Lionand even dabbling in a few Wes Anderson short films. Taking all he’s learned and all that he loves about film, Patel put his blood, sweat, tears, and wallet into getting Monkey Man made and it’s a truly remarkable feat for a first time director to deliver on such a level. It’s such an awesome thing to see Patel venture into new territory and swing for the fences his first time up to bat!

Monkey Man

A young man in India spends his nights fighting in an underground world of violence and showmanship, taking on challengers while wearing a peculiar Monkey mask. As a young boy, this man called “Bobby” grew up in the forests of India with his mother and people until the government and police came to take the land and force them from it. For years, Bobby has had the image of his mother’s murderers burned into his mind and the burns on his hand serve as a reminder of his mission. After infiltrating an evil organization that benefits on keeping the poor and defenseless down, Bobby takes revenge and justice into his own hands as he seeks to fulfill his own destiny.

Dev Patel comes out of the gate swinging with Monkey Man, his directorial and writing debut which impresses and shocks on a bunch of different levels. After years of consistently turning in terrific performances in a wide variety of films, Patel takes on the revenge genre in spectacular fashion and infuses a lot of Indian culture and spirituality into the story. While some of the needle drops and use of imagery are a bit on the nose, Patel wears his influences on his sleeve and dedicates himself completely to the narrative. What results is a very unique approach to the genre and some stylish and gruesome action that feels reminiscent of a veteran filmmaker.

Originally slated for a straight to streaming release, after seeing an early cut of Monkey Man director and writer Jordan Peele (Get Out, US, Nope) signed on as an executive producer because he felt this is exactly the kind of film that deserves to be seen in theaters. It’s awesome to see another minority director with such a big platform help a first-time director and believe so much in their vision. Monkey Man played incredibly with our theater, leaving many viewers and myself audibly gasping and cheering throughout. From some of the camera work to the visual language Patel communicates, Monkey Man feels kinetic and artsy at the same time, marrying big energy with stylish sequences. It’s clear to me that Patel is a huge fan of film because you see him experimenting with so many techniques.

Leading the charge with a performance steeped in physicality and communicated by his eyes, Dev Patel works movie magic like we’ve never seen from him as he completely lays his body on the line for this film. Taking his own stunts and direction very seriously, Patel truly immerses himself in this world he’s created and never for a moment do you doubt his abilities when it comes to combat. Unlike John Wick, which many have baselessly compared this film to, Monkey Man prefers the style of hand-to-hand combat and a great imagination to fuel inspiring and creative props to inflict pain with. At many times I found myself stunned and baffled by some of the combat, feeling certain that this director had done this countless times before. The assured nature of his filmmaking is a huge triumph for Patel who will no doubt continue to make wildly entertaining films.

Monkey Man makes the most of Patel’s filmmaking debut and seriously impresses on several technical and storytelling levels. There’s so much beauty in the religious storytelling he employs, and it’s countered so well by the all-out bloody brutality that’s just as captivating. There are certainly some editing woes from time-to-time, as the pacing slows towards the middle before ramping back up to an intense finale. Had some of the story been re-arranged in how it’s presented, I feel the overall impact of the narrative would have resonated more and the flow of the story would have been consistently developing. I had such a fantastic time watching Monkey Man and I seriously can’t wait to see what Patel chooses to do next as a director because he’s left his mark and is clearly capable of some awesome entertainment.

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