Monkey Man – Film Review

Filmmakers periodically explore new themes, delving deeply into them every decade. In the 2000s, the success of Mission Impossible paved the way for revenge stories featuring former government agents like Bourne and Jack Reacher. By the 2010s, these were supplanted by enigmatic assassins such as John Wick, a significant milestone in this genre. “Monkey Man” follows this trajectory, stylistically akin to John Wick, yet striving for realism with a political dimension. Initially, Dev Patel had a deal with Netflix, but the platform withdrew, apprehensive about the film’s political messages. Understanding these messages requires familiarity with the country’s dynamics; however, the film’s core narrative is accessible without extensive background knowledge. If you enjoy action films infused with traditional elements, “Monkey Man” will satisfy viewers.

Let’s delve into the plot… The character portrayed by Dev Patel earns money by taking beatings in underground fight clubs at night. However, we soon learn that he is saving this money for a specific purpose, driven by a thirst for revenge rooted in his past, which is gradually revealed as the film progresses. He has someone he must reach, and he is prepared to do whatever it takes, even if it means sacrificing himself. The question is, though his desire for revenge fuels his determination, does he possess the confidence to see it through?

What sets “Monkey Man” apart from its counterparts is a crucial revelation at the film’s most pivotal moment. Throughout the movie, Dev Patel’s character is shrouded in mystery. His deliberate losses in the ring obscure the limits of his abilities. Yet, his relentless drive and dedication assure us that he will ultimately cause chaos and achieve his revenge. However, it is revealed that Patel’s character is not an assassin like those in similar films. He lacks mastery in combat techniques, possesses no superhuman strength, and even panics amid the chaos. He is, in fact, an ordinary man. When the temporary adrenaline induced by his quest for vengeance dissipates at the critical juncture, he is left exposed and vulnerable.

The film managed to surprise me. It turns out our protagonist is an ordinary person. However, he clings to a belief and won’t abandon his mission until he fulfills it. Because he has nothing to lose. After a dramatic fall from the crescendo he himself created, the film morphs into a classic tale of a man who hones his skills in isolation and returns for revenge. Supported by the faith and backing of the city’s marginalized communities, Dev Patel’s character eventually finds the confidence and superhuman strength necessary to make another attempt.

Fundamentally, the film does not introduce anything novel when compared to its counterparts, at least for me. However, having Dev Patel in the lead role, set within a culture unfamiliar to me and built on elements of internal politics, made it intriguing. I have always been drawn to films that expose and dismantle structures that exploit the faithful and harm innocents under the guise of religion. Although the film is grounded in a political context, it lacks detailed critiques or revelations about these politics. It relies on the audience’s prior knowledge. As an outsider, while I could grasp Patel’s opposition due to my personal experiences, the film did not explicitly highlight why this opposition was harmful. Even the pivotal scene where the police attack innocents was somewhat lost on me due to a lack of general cultural context. Despite this, the sequence effectively conveyed Dev Patel’s motivation.

Dev Patel has done an impressive job for his first feature-length directorial effort. When I think of action cinema today, the first two directors that come to mind are Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. I did not expect Patel to deliver a performance that would rival theirs, but he has done an admirable job. He skillfully integrates traditional elements, captures the dynamism in action scenes, and particularly excels in depicting the chaos of the bar scene.

In conclusion, “Monkey Man” is a delightful film for viewers seeking traditional flavors apart from American action films. While it is not on the level of “The Raid,” it is still delightful to watch. Understanding the political storyline requires familiarity with the country’s dynamics, but the film does not burden the audience with this and presents everything in an easily comprehensible manner. Dev Patel leverages his height to deliver a captivating performance. The fight scenes suit him well. Notably, his portrayal of an ordinary character driven by a thirst for revenge rather than a former government agent, a lifelong assassin, or a feared villain adds depth to the story. When an ordinary person finds themselves in unfamiliar chaos, it results in a highly entertaining watch.

Cast & Crew

director: Dev Patel

writers: Dev Patel, Paul Angunawela, John Collee

starring: Dev Patel, Pitobash, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Sharlto Copley 



Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *