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Monkey Man Review: Brutal Brawls Can’t Mask Flawed Hero’s Journey



Dev Patel’s directorial debut, Monkey Man, delivers action-packed thrills. But its ambitions to be a profound revenge story fall flat. Dive into our review to see if Monkey Man punches above its weight.

Dev Patel, the talented actor known for his captivating performances in films like Slumdog Millionaire and Lion, has taken the director’s chair for his latest project, Monkey Man. This action-thriller promises a high-octane experience, but does it deliver on its potential to be more than just a thrilling ride?

A Bare-Knuckled Brawler with a Hidden Past

Monkey Man throws us into the gritty underworld of Yatana, a fictionalized stand-in for Mumbai. We meet Kid (played by Patel himself), a mysterious figure who fights bare-knuckle brawls while wearing an ape mask. Despite his ferocity, Kid is often the underdog, taking beatings from bigger and stronger opponents. This seemingly aimless violence masks a deeper purpose – a simmering vendetta against the city’s corrupt elite.

Political Intrigue and Religious Symbolism

As Kid navigates the city’s criminal web, he edges closer to his true target – the powerful police chief and his connection to a Hindu nationalist organization, the Sovereign Party. The film subtly references the current political climate in India, with the Sovereign Party mirroring the ruling BJP. This inclusion might spark censorship concerns for the film’s release in India.

Flashback Frenzy: Untangling Kid’s Motivation

The narrative relies heavily on flashbacks to explain Kid’s motivations. We see glimpses of his idyllic childhood spent learning about the monkey-god Hanuman from his mother. This connection to Hanuman is further emphasized through dream visions and religious imagery. However, the constant flashback structure disrupts the film’s flow, making it challenging to connect emotionally with Kid.

A Showcase for Action, But Where’s the Depth?

Monkey Man shines in its meticulously choreographed fight sequences. The camerawork is dynamic, placing us right in the heart of the brutal action. The close-up shots showcase the raw intensity and physicality of the fights. However, the relentless focus on action comes at a cost. Kid remains an enigma throughout the film. We see his rage and determination, but his internal struggles and emotional vulnerabilities remain unexplored.

Patel’s Potential Untapped: A Directorial Debut with Room for Growth

Despite being a talented actor, Patel’s performance is somewhat overshadowed by the film’s frenetic pace and reliance on flashbacks. We rarely see him display the full range of his emotional capabilities. This is a missed opportunity, as Patel’s presence could have added a layer of depth that the film desperately needs.

Monkey Man: A Flawed But Entertaining Action Spectacle

Monkey Man is a visually striking and action-packed film. The fight choreography is impressive, and the film’s vibrant color palette keeps the energy high. However, its aspirations to be a profound revenge story with spiritual undertones fall flat. The overreliance on flashbacks and the underdeveloped protagonist leave us yearning for a more emotionally engaging experience.

Is Monkey Man Worth Watching?

If you’re looking for a pure adrenaline rush with some stylish action sequences, Monkey Man might satisfy your cravings. However, if you seek depth, character development, and a satisfying emotional payoff, you might be left wanting more. Ultimately, Monkey Man is a flawed but entertaining film that showcases Dev Patel’s potential as a director, even if it doesn’t fully deliver on its lofty ambitions.

Additional Points to Consider:

  • The film’s ending might leave some viewers feeling unsatisfied, lacking a sense of closure.
  • The soundtrack is a blend of pop music and traditional Indian elements, adding to the film’s unique atmosphere.
  • The performances by the supporting cast, including Sikandar Kher as the corrupt police chief, are noteworthy.

Monkey Man is a film with undeniable strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to the individual viewer to decide if the action-packed thrills outweigh the narrative shortcomings.

Resource: https://www.vulture.com/article/movie-review-monkey-man-has-dev-patel-fighting-for-his-life.html

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