The second primate movie in as many weeks

Film review of Monkey Man. Picture: ON FILE

By Seth Lukas Hynes

Monkey Man

Starring Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley and Sikandar Kher

Rated MA15+


The directorial debut of star Dev Patel, Monkey Man is a harrowing, compelling revenge thriller.

Kid (Patel), a poor young man from the Mumbai slums, strikes out against the corrupt leaders who harmed him and his family as a child.

Monkey Man immediately draws you in with Patel’s fiercely determined yet vulnerable performance and a potent atmosphere of affluent corruption and industrious poverty.

The film has a sturdy three-act structure, establishing the engaging key players – including Sikandar Kher as the cruel police chief villain Rana – and ramping up the danger before a cathartic showdown.

As Kid’s vendetta progresses, we gradually learn more about the childhood trauma that haunts him.

Amid a gruelling journey of strength and focus through hardship are gentler moments of ritual, connection and tenderness, all steeped in Indian music and culture.

While vengeance is a major, grimly satisfying theme, the film is careful not to cross over into triumph, as Kid becomes a fearsome vengeful force by the end.

Like John Wick, the fight sequences are fast-paced, stylish and brutal but grounded and easy to follow (save for a few beats that are shot too close and shaky).

Monkey Man also has several moments of innovative camerawork and lighting, and Sharlto Copley is amusingly slimy in a supporting role as a fight referee.

A riveting action-thriller and an outstanding directorial debut for Patel, Monkey Man is playing in most Victorian cinemas.