MONKEY MAN – A Review by Jenn Rohm

MONKEY MAN – A Review by Jenn Rohm

I have said it before and will say it again—I love action films. When something works at the box office, others will follow suit. I see this as a compliment to those prior films when this is done.  Dev Patel has done this in his directorial debut in his new film Monkey Man.  He does acknowledge the John Wick franchise with a call-out in the movie.  Koren Thrillers such as Enter the Dragon and The Raid appear to have had their influence.

This is not to say this is a cookie-cutter reproduction of what is already out there. Patel brings additional layers with social commentary, not only about the caste system but also about the ways of life in India. The pacing is like a foxtrot: slow, slow, then shift to quick, quick, and back to slow, slow.  This allows for more human connection to the characters in the story.

The film starts with a child learning the legend of Hanuman, a Hindu monkey God, from his mother. We then go to a boxing match with one of the fighters in a monkey mask. Kid (as credited) is doing whatever he can to make the money needed to put a plan into action. This leads to him getting a job at a posh hotel and continuing his plan for revenge.  

Watching this movie, I can see that it was a passion project for Patel. In further research, I learned that many factors over the last ten years impacted the making of this movie. These include but are not limited to, the pandemic, location, go-pro cameras breaking, injuries, and illness.  At moments, the crew was used for crowd scenes, phone cameras, and the hotel for shooting.

The acting itself is what pulled me in. The characters are believable, even those with little character development. We understand who they are, and they help move the story along.  Patel has multiple roles in making the film of writer, director, and actor in the role of Kid.  His ability in fight scenes is impressive, and I would like to see him in other roles that require him to use those talents again.  He also has a few close-ups with a pure smolder look.  (He needs to teach a class on this.)  Pitobash brings a lovable quality to Alphonso, who makes things happen in hopes of being part of the upper class while they continue to look down on him.  Vipin Sharma is Alpha, guardian of a temple, and protector of a community of trans-women.  The wisdom is delivered with a level of grace and confidence that shows the life experience behind the messages.

My only issue is the overuse of hand-held camera work. With all that is taking place in every scene, I wanted to be able to focus and take it in. With camera views going from different angles, things were missed. On the flip side, in a fight scene with Kid on a bar top, it is so well-framed and lit that I must give it a chef’s kiss. 

For fans of action who don’t mind the gore that you will feel, this is one worth seeing on the big screen.  Sadly, Nicki won’t be waiting outside for the ride home.

 

Director: Dev Patel

Written By: Dev Patel, Paul Angunawela, John Colee

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, rape, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use.

Genres: Action, Thriller

Selig Rating: 4 stars

Runtime: 2h 1m

Release Date: April 5, 2024

Trailer: Monkey Man official trailer

Website: Monkey Man website

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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