Monkey Man Review – Dev Patel Goes Ape

Mark Pacis

Monkey Man

Monkey Man, Dev Patel’s much-anticipated directorial debut, merges a gripping narrative with a rich tapestry of cultural and spiritual themes. Set in the vibrant chaos of Mumbai, this film blends intense action with profound thematic exploration, showcasing Patel’s versatility both in front of and behind the camera.

Monkey Man follows Kid, a mysterious young man who goes on a journey to hunt down a group of people responsible for his mother’s death. However, Kid’s odyssey of revenge becomes more significant as he becomes a hero to the poor and powerless.

Dev Patel’s venture into directing with Monkey Man presents a gritty, action-packed narrative enriched with Mumbai’s cultural and spiritual layers. Despite being his first directorial attempt, Patel exhibits a promising knack for marrying dynamic action with deep, meaningful storytelling against Mumbai’s lively streets.

The narrative journey of Monkey Man is akin to a rollercoaster, marked by fluctuating pacing and coherence. Initially, viewers might find the storyline fragmented and elusive, with pivotal elements and characters surfacing sporadically. Yet, as the film unfolds, the narrative intricacies knit together, creating a more engaging and cohesive cinematic experience.

The Monkey Man fight choreography is a spectacular highlight, blending martial arts expertise with cinematic spectacle. Each sequence is a testament to Patel’s attention to detail, drawing inspiration from martial arts legends and film icons to create a distinct visual style.

While Monkey Man encounters hurdles in narrative coherence and pacing, it lays a solid foundation for Patel’s directorial career.

Monkey Man‘s action sequences resonate with the nods to Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and Enter the Dragon, combined with The Raid‘s intense, close-quarter dynamics. The choreography also incorporates the disciplined, methodical essence of the 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Patel uses this rich collection of influences to craft a fight scene narrative that is both a tribute and a fresh take on traditional martial arts cinema.

Beyond its few action-packed sequences, Monkey Man primarily delves deep into Mumbai’s socioeconomic and spiritual undercurrents, offering viewers a narrative with significant cultural commentary. However, this thematic richness risks being underplayed by the promising look at the film’s action sequences, potentially skewing audience expectations and undervaluing the movie’s intellectual and emotional depth.

In Monkey Man, Dev Patel reveals promising directorial flair, particularly in orchestrating complex action scenes and weaving dense thematic elements. Despite facing pacing and narrative clarity challenges, Patel’s initial foray into directing hints at his potential to make a significant mark in the action genre with a more refined approach to storytelling and fewer headaches.

The cinematography of Monkey Man fluctuates between sleek and unpolished, mirroring the narrative’s shifting tones. The film’s visual narrative is striking, with expansive views of Mumbai setting a grand stage. However, the cinematography becomes rugged and raw as the action rises, sometimes compromising clarity for a stylistic, immersive experience.

Overall, Monkey Man is a testament to cinematic experimentation and thematic ambition, highlighting Dev Patel’s potential as a filmmaker. While the film encounters hurdles in narrative coherence and pacing, it lays a solid foundation for Patel’s directorial career, suggesting that his future projects could yield more polished and impactful cinematic works.

Rating: 3/5 atoms