Dev Patel’s Thrilling, Brutal Action Flick Has A Lot Of Heart & Depth
7 mins read

Dev Patel’s Thrilling, Brutal Action Flick Has A Lot Of Heart & Depth


  • Monkey Man has soul, depth, and a powerful message about exploitation.
  • Dev Patel excels as both a star and director, delivering thrilling action set pieces.
  • The film showcases the strength of community and resilience in underdog stories.



Monkey Man had a long journey. Initially set for a Netflix release, it was acquired by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions to ensure it got a theatrical release (via Universal). After seeing this film, I can say with confidence that it deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible and experienced with an audience who is game for what Dev Patel’s actioner has to offer. Patel not only directed Monkey Man, but he wrote, starred, and produced the film. Introducing the film at SXSW, it was easy to see how much passion he put into it, and it certainly shows.

Monkey Man poster showing Dev Patel holding a knife in front of a black and red background

Monkey Man is a 2024 action-thriller film directed by and starring Dev Patel. Following his release from prison, a man known as “Kid” makes a living by engaging in anonymous underground fights in a mask where he is beaten down each night. However, after witnessing greed and corruption consuming his city, Kid breaks into the upper echelon of society to find those who destroyed his life and take them down.


  • Monkey Man is a wonderfully executed action thriller
  • The film’s story has many exciting layers
  • Dev Patel is excellent in front of and behind the camera
  • The action set pieces are enthralling

Monkey Man has been compared to John Wick, but to maintain that comparison would be a disservice to Patel’s film. Rich with culture and layered with revenge and commentary about the exploitation of vulnerable communities by powerful figures (political and religious), Monkey Man has a lot of soul and depth. Yes, the film’s plot is simple enough: A man wants revenge on a corrupt policeman (Sikandar Kher) for murdering his mother, and he delves into the seedy world of Queenie’s (Ashwini Kalsekar) brothel underground, to get it. But it’s also so much more than what’s on the surface.

Monkey Man Has More Depth Than The Typical Action Film

Dev Patel sweaty and shirtless in Monkey Man

The film’s politics are very influenced by what’s going on in India today. Patel showcases the horror of state violence, especially as it pertains to Hindu superiority above other groups and religious minorities. And even though western audience members may not understand every little thing about the film’s political landscape, there’s enough in there to get the gist of what’s going on. To that end, the film doesn’t spoon-feed us information, nor does it treat its audience as anything but intelligent, able to grasp everything without scenes full of exposition.

To that end, Monkey Man shows rather than tells. This is crucial considering Patel’s Kid is not very talkative, and we find out the majority of his backstory via flashbacks — memories of his mother (Adithi Kalkunte) are framed in a light, melancholic way that juxtaposes the rest of the film’s darkness. It isn’t until we learn the full extent of what really happened that these flashbacks begin to dim, as though Kid is waking up to the full breadth of the truth instead of burying it.

Monkey Man’s Action Is An Adrenaline Rush

What’s fabulous about this high-octane actioner is that Kid is generally inexperienced and falls down and fails before he must pick himself back up again, with the help of a shunned group made up of trans women (led by Vipin Sharma). The sequences involving his training are made all the better because Kid is surrounded by community, with Monkey Man embracing the idea that strength comes in numbers, and one man cannot do the impossible, or face violent and power-thirsty gurus, alone.

After seeing this film, I can say with confidence that it deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible and experienced with an audience who is game for what Dev Patel’s actioner has to offer.

The film certainly delivers on the action set pieces, but it also scales back to lay the groundwork for the story so that the payoff is well worth it. Monkey Man isn’t some basic action thriller; it’s an underdog story about the power of the people. So, when the final action scenes come around, the hand-to-hand combat and fight choreography feels electric, sizzling with an energy that’ll keep you riveted and glued to the screen. Kid kicks, shoots, and punches his way toward his revenge, and the stunt sequences cleverly employ objects that are lying around.

Monkey Man (2024)

Dev Patel

Release Date
April 5, 2024

Thunder Road Films , Bron Studios , Monkey Paw Productions

Universal Pictures

Dev Patel , Paul Angunawela , John Collee

Dev Patel , Sharlto Copely , Pitobash , Vipin Sharma , Sikandar Kher , Sobhita Dhulipala , Ashwini Kalsekar , Adithi Kalkunte , Makarand Deshpande

113 Minutes

At one point, Patel bites his assailant’s nose, underscoring the gritty, no-holds-barred violence of the film. As far as action goes, Monkey Man is influenced by films like John Wick, The Raid, and Bollywood. The battles are gruesome, creatively filmed, and occasionally take on a first-person camera perspective that boosts the thrill and suspense of the action. Patel’s physique also defies that of the typical action star. He isn’t overly buff, but his street fighting skills are targeted and significant, his strategy smart even when it’s miscalculated. It greatly elevates the fights and creates audience engagement along with it.

Monkey Man Is Dev Patel At His Best

Dev Patel holds a camera while directing on the set of Monkey Man

Monkey Man is ultimately Patel’s film through and through. He’s the action star we didn’t know we needed. Aside from the action, Patel imbues the role with a soulful heartache that highlights Kid’s passionate drive for revenge. Everything is written in the depth of Patel’s eyes, which conveys so much that words cannot express. To say that he’s excellent in the role doesn’t do his performance justice; Patel goes above and beyond to deliver something memorable and the script, which he co-wrote with Paul Angunawela and John Collee, powerfully does the rest.

If there are a few too many flashbacks and a smaller than expected role for Sobhita Dhulipala, it doesn’t deter Monkey Man from being a fantastic, multilayered story with a character you’ll be rooting for the whole way through. It’s exactly the kind of film that will play well with audiences, especially as its action sequences and comedy are more fun with a group than watching at home. It’s an action flick with a lot of heart and power built into it, and it makes me excited to see what Patel does next.

Monkey Man
premiered at the 2024 SXSW Film & TV Festival. The film will have its theatrical release on April 5.

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