Dev Patel’s ‘Monkey Man’ is a Satisfying Action Romp (Review)

by | Apr 4, 2024


Dev Patel’s directorial debut fills the action crave that’s in need of a new action hero. 

Thank God for producer Jordan Peele and Universal Pictures. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to experience the way Monkey Man was meant to be seen: on the big screen. Originally bought by Netflix back in 2021 and having seemingly been sitting on the shelf since completing its shoot, there was reason to be worried about the finished product. However, when Jordan Peele, whose taste should not go unnoticed after making Get Out, Us and Nope, saw Monkey Man, he knew audiences had to see it on the big screen. And thanks to Peele purchasing the film under his production banner Monkeypaw Productions, the film is getting a wide release in theaters. We can take two things from all of this: First, Peele was right. And second, a new action hero is born thanks to Dev Patel for his work in front of and behind the camera on Monkey Man

Monkey Man tells a simple revenge story: a young man (Patel) seeks revenge on corrupt leaders who were responsible for the death of his mother. And in seeking revenge, he also becomes a Robin Hoodesque character in standing up for the less fortunate against these corrupt leaders. 

As you might have seen in previews and read online, Monkey Man could essentially be viewed as John Wick in Mumbai, and those comparisons are spot on (there’s even a reference to John Wick in this film!). However, Patel’s Monkey Man is more than just that. Both fresh and stylish in its approach, it’s more than enough to stand on its own. Monkey Man is an uplifting story for those who look up to the young man seeking revenge, whose impact helps those also affected by the antagonists in the film. There is also a significant cultural impact, as this story takes us to places we don’t often venture into in Hollywood-made films. Of course, throw in the ultraviolent action sequences that will remind you of the John Wick franchise, and it makes for a winning combination of things that will satisfy various demographics craving for something new and exciting.

This tale of revenge would not work without Patel, whose work as the star and filmmaker here is impressive. We have seen Patel, the actor, in years past; but his directorial debut with Monkey Man shows strong promise for his skills behind the camera in the years to come. There are some things in Monkey Man that are a bit rough around the edges, which is to be expected from a new filmmaker trying to find his groove. And while the film does take more than a hot minute to get going, it more than makes up for it in the back half of the film, which leaves no stone unturned. 

The lengths Patel went to in making this film (which have been documented in recent weeks) are as equally impressive as the character he plays on screen in Monkey Man. And just like when we saw the first film in the John Wick franchise, we’re left with the impression that a new franchise is born, thanks to its main star and the stellar action sequences that feel fresh and exciting. A film that’s as proud as its character beating its chest in the ring, Monkey Man is a first-round knockout for its new director. 

RATING: ★★★★

(out of five stars)