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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Monkey Man (2024)

For a directorial debut, this is impressive and demanding stuff that Dev Patel is both directing and starring in. He presents a grimy Indian underworld of poverty, criminality, violence and bare-toothed cruelty with such care and attention to imagine he's been doing this for years.

Likened to an Asian John Wick, the mood is similar, if maybe less comical and laced with what we can only thankfully imagine as a touch more realism. The catalyst here may be different, I mean nobody killed his dog, but the tone of revenge for a past sooner forgotten is no less prevailing here, for an individual that is both not to be fucked with and has also had just about enough of the lot that fate has dealt him.

Not likely to be the first name on the lips of cinemagoers as the next big action movie star, Patel does really well with the more physical demands placed upon him (by himself, really), but this is not as barefaced, balls-out entertaining as John Wick or as clinical and classy as most of what John Woo would come up with, opting instead for a more sweaty and grubby alternative. The choreography here is much less obvious. Unlike the likes of The Raid, this does have character.

Nonetheless, what this lacks in sleek, it makes up for in grit and a nod to cultural differences, be it by accident or design. An action adventure in the true sense of the word, this may be a little too heavy for some on the bangs and crashes and whilst no less ambitious, Patel's experience, such as it is, displays a noticeable lack of Hollywood style. Good or bad? You decide.

Despite this, it remains a very worthy first stab at what I am sure Patel will get better at doing over time and certainly worth a watch. Easy to sit through and I would be pleased to see another two hours in the company of these characters, given half a chance.

If we can't have Idris Elba, then Dev Patel is the James Bond we want. Shame we won't get him either.


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