Monkey Man Review

Reviews Films


The much-anticipated Monkey Man hits cinemas this week, seeing actor Dev Patel (The Green Knight) sitting in the Director’s chair for the first time ever. After receiving a standing ovation during its premiere at SXSW Film & TV Festival, this adrenaline-fueled feature is set to elevate the action genre to new heights.

Before going into this film, all I really knew about it was the on-set news of countless injuries that almost halted production, which of course piqued my interest. I’m a huge Dev Patel fan, but feel that his performances never seem to get the recognition they deserve. I hope this film not only delivers, but also propels Patel further into the mainstream for audiences to take more notice of this incredible actor. 

I’m glad to say that Dev Patel’s directorial debut, Monkey Man, is a visceral odyssey. The film marries hardcore action with a stylishly violent narrative. Known for his compelling performances in front of the camera, Patel steps behind the lens with a ferocity and vision that are nothing short of remarkable. In Monkey Man, he not only directs but also writes, produces, and stars; pouring his blood, sweat, and tears (literally) into a project that feels intensely personal.

Set against the backdrop of Mumbai’s underbelly, the film’s setting is as much a character as the protagonist himself, offering a canvas that’s both vibrant and raw. Patel’s Mumbai is alive; pulsating with energy, danger, and beauty, creating a perfect playground for the film’s high-octane narrative. This environment sets the stage for a story that provides a fresh and thrilling take on the revenge genre.

The action sequences in Monkey Man are unsurprisingly one of the film’s highlights. Heavily influenced by the likes of John Wick (2014) and The Raid (2011), they are a frenetic joy to behold. The hand-to-hand fight choreography is particularly noteworthy, showcasing sequences that are not just impressively executed but also wince-inducingly violent. A memorable brawl in a male bathroom stands out in my mind, blending brutal combat with a claustrophobic intensity that left me gasping.

Patel’s debut is a tour-de-force of energy and emotion. His direction is confident and ambitious, balancing hyper-violence with surprisingly funny moments that provide much-needed levity to the dark subject matter. This balance helps to underscore the deeply emotional undercurrents of the story, adding layers to what could easily have been a one-dimensional revenge tale. These moments of humour and heart are crucial, making the journey with the protagonist not just a quest for vengeance but a more complex exploration of justice and redemption.

However, Monkey Man is not without its flaws. The pacing, particularly in the second act, shows signs of inconsistency, with some moments feeling unnecessarily drawn out. This uneven pacing momentarily took me out of the experience, but Patel’s storytelling ultimately recovers, culminating in a high-octane finale that is both satisfying and exhilarating, helping me to forgive earlier narrative missteps.

Dev Patel has indeed made a statement with Monkey Man. His debut as a director is audacious, proving his mettle not just as an actor but as a formidable storyteller with a clear, unique vision. The film, with its blend of stylistic violence, emotional depth, and unexpected humour, showcases Patel’s diverse talents and sets him up as a filmmaker to watch.

As the credits roll, one thing becomes clear: the anticipation for what Dev Patel does next is palpable. Monkey Man is a declaration of his arrival on the directing scene, a blend of passion, talent, and storytelling that promises even greater things to come.

Rating 8/10