Monkey Man Movie Review: an action film that marks the debut behind the camera of actor Dev Patel


The review of Monkey Man, an action film that marks the debut behind the camera of actor Dev Patel.

Film: Monkey Man, 2024. 

Director: Dev Patel. 

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunte, Makarand Deshpande.

Genre: action, thriller.

Duration: 121 minutes.

Plot: A young man in India takes it out on the corrupt cops who caused his mother's death.

Who is it recommended for? To all fans of action films, in particular the most brutal genre with philosophical and mythological elements like John Wick, of which this film is a declared disciple.

it was initially supposed to be a project by Neill Blomkamp, proposed to him by Dev Patel who he had directed in Humandroid. At the suggestion of the South African filmmaker, the English actor of Italian origin then decided to direct this action film set in Mumbai himself, thus marking his debut as a director. 

A debut that risked not seeing the light due to the pandemic, which arrived just at the moment in which filming was supposed to begin on site (subsequently moved to an island in Indonesia to reduce the budget), and which had to be held until 2023 a Netflix Original. At a certain point during post-production, Jordan Peele saw the film and, convinced that it deserved a traditional theatrical distribution, purchased it through his production company Monkeypaw, giving Universal the green light to release the film in theaters. which we talk about in our review of Monkey Man.

The awakening of animal instinct

An anonymous young man (the end credits identify him only as Kid) divides his days between petty thefts and fights in a clandestine club where he is known as Monkey Man, due to the mask he wears. One day he comes into contact with the businesswoman Queenie and convinces her to hire him for the most humiliating tasks of hers, the ones that no one else would accept. And this is just the first step in a long, bloody journey of revenge: the boy is using this opportunity to get to Rana Singh, the corrupt policeman who killed his mother years ago. His path will cross with that of other citizens who, after an eternity of oppression, want to rebel against a ruling class that mistreats the poorest to the point of almost extermination.

Young triple talent

In addition to directing and writing the screenplay, Dev Patel exhibits his action personality in front of the camera by playing the nameless protagonist, a role that allows him to apply his characteristic intensity in a much more spectacular and shamelessly mainstream context than projects small, quirky and at times intimate with which he is most predominantly associated. 

After him, the interpreter best known to the general public (and perhaps a tribute to the association with Blomkamp that we mentioned previously) is the South African Sharlto Copley, who has the opportunity to show off his real accent in the original as the organizer of illegal fights. The rest of the cast is made up of talents from Indian cinema, some of whom also have a certain international visibility: Sikandar Sher (Rana), for example, starred in Sense8, and will soon appear on Prime Video in the Indian spin-off of the Citadel series.


The film was born from Patel's desire to bring, into his own cultural context of origin (the Indian legends of the past and today's society, with a non-negligible political charge which is perhaps - say experts in the region - at the basis of Netflix's choice to sell the rights to Jordan Peele), the contemporary action aesthetic of a universe like that of John Wick, of which Kid is clearly an emulator, from the presence of a dog (which however at this time is not the reason for revenge) to the mention explanation of the character in a scene in which the protagonist wants to buy a gun and they offer him the model used by Keanu Reeves in the tetralogy created by Derek Kolstad. 

And if compared to the American prototype we feel a certain inexperience of the neo-director, with a pace that is not exactly the dizzying crescendo to which Wick has accustomed us, the fact remains that the macro-sequences have nothing to envy of their colleague in terms of pure, shameless brutality choreographed excellently, a delicious calling card of a new name to keep an eye on, now, even behind the camera.


Dev Patel's directorial debut, while not without its flaws, is compelling. Monkey Man is a bold and ambitious film featuring intense hand-to-hand combat sequences and innovative depictions of violence, complemented by a dynamic score, frenetic direction, and imaginative lighting. In the realm of action cinema, characterized by gray antiheroes, what sets Patel's protagonist apart is the driving force behind his actions in a gritty revenge narrative that offers no reprieve.
Overall Score