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A Mini Review of Dev Patel's 'Monkey Man'

husband, father, tech enthusiast
This is a post from April 2024 about my feelings on the movie “Monkey Man”, from my archive over at my old Scribbles blog.

This weekend my 16-year-old daughter and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see Dev Patel’s directorial debut “Monkey Man”. You may know Dev Patel as an actor from the British TV series “Skins”, or the 2008 Danny Boyle directed drama film “Slumdog Millionaire”. Most recently, Patel starred in the epic medieval fantasy movie “The Green Knight” from cult favorite production company A24.

“Monkey Man” sees Patel pull multiple roles as co-producer, co-creator, director, and leading man. “Monkey Man” is a revenge action thriller film following a nameless young man, Kid (sometimes Bobby), seeking vengeance against the corrupt officials who murdered his mother and stole his village’s land. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but this is a classic revenge flick with Patel’s own spin on it. The movie centers heavily on the disparity between the rich and the poor, and somewhat on the conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims.

The pace of the movie is slow at times, but Patel’s performance and the captivating story of the protagonist’s history keep the viewer engaged. The story takes time to build, with a lengthy set up, and a worthwhile payoff in the end. The action is raw and brutal. The fight choreography is reminiscent of John Wick, but brings a unique and distinct style to the table.

This brings me to the cinematography. I hope this movie is nominated for an Oscar for cinematography, because it deserves to win no matter what other movie it’s up against. I was constantly being surprised at the angles and directions from which we were being shown characters and backgrounds, during both dialogue and action scenes. Sometimes the camera would slide in to a scene from above, or, as in one scene that forced Patel’s team to get creative due to a broken camera rig, it would swing over a crowd of people on a rope.

The viewer is treated to different parts of a fight with quick cuts from the protagonist’s right hand to his left hand. From his POV to an enemy POV. From the floor, to the top of a bar, to a view down from the ceiling. At no moment did I know what I would be seeing next. The camera work and editing were astonishing.

Overall, I give this movie a 9.5/10. Dev Patel shows that he is not only a great actor, but also that he can hold his own as an action star, and tell a great story as a director. I only dock it half a point for getting a tiny bit slow in the middle, but this doesn’t detract from the overall package that is this movie. I’m very excited to see more from Dev Patel, both in front of the camera and behind it.