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Monkey Man

“Monkey Man”

Starring: Dev Patel, Sobhita Dhulipala, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sikandar Kher
Directed by Dev Patel
Rated R

Streaming on Peacock

First Impression: “Monkey Man” is a wild and ambitious action film that delves deep into India’s complex religious and political structure. It’s like “John Wick” meets “Slumdog Millionaire” meets “V for Vendetta.”
When audiences first met Dev Patel, he was a young unknown actor who starred in the surprise megahit movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” released in 2008. The movie was a commercial and critical success, coming out of nowhere that year to claim the Best Picture award at the Oscars, catapulting its director Danny Boyle and stars Dev Patel and Frida Pinto into newfound success in western film and media.

When it came out, it was an eye-opener to western audiences, who were horrified at the abject poverty and cruelty that many Indian people faced. Western audiences also learned about the Hindu majority and Muslim minority ethnic divide that could and would turn violent and deadly frequently. For many, “Slumdog Millionaire” was a rare look at a region of the world westerners really knew nothing about and it increased awareness of the Bollywood system and actors and actresses that flourish there.

So now, 16 years later, after having experienced success in Hollywood, Dev Patel is back to where he started, making his directorial debut with “Monkey Man.” I’m not going to lie, this isn’t the most typical of action films. Sure, the fights are slick and violent but there is a lot of subtext that may go over the heads of the casual viewer. We get a lot of rich vs. poor conflict, where we see greedy developers forcing poor people out of their homes and off their land in the name of progress and capitalism.

Patel wants the viewers to be aware that while his character may be one bad son-of-a-gun, he is also aware of the changing political tide that’s happening and how it’s affecting where he lives and the people he grew up with. Patel also wants the audience to be wary of religious bigots and so-called holy men that have become involved in Indian politics.

I’m not sure if Patel is taking direct shots at the current Indian leadership, and that includes the Indian Prime Minister Modi because Modi has been accused in his country of using his political power to abuse and neglect minority communities in India, but if that’s the case, Patel is really sounding the alarm and hitting the nail on the head here with his first feature movie.

“Monkey Man” may not be the perfect action film by any means, but it is very memorable and has characters that will make you laugh and make you angry as well. From the trailer, this looks very much like a John Wick-lite film where an uncomplicated man seeks revenge from the bad guys, but in reality Patel has crafted a complicated portrait of his home country, including the political and religious strife that in many instances leads to the majority of the violence and brutality that exists there.

Final Verdict 4 out of 5 Stars


  • Jeremy Ortega

    Jeremy Ortega writes the Streaming Wars Column as is also Questa del Rio News' Ad Sales Rep. you can reach him via email sales-2@QuestaNews.com

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