Dev Patel Unleashes Pure Rage in "Monkey Man"

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel
Starring: Dev Patel
Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Action
Rated: R (For strong bloody violence throughout, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use)

It's not always easy being an actor who bursts onto the Hollywood scene with loads of success. When "Slumdog Millionaire" came out it launched its unknown lead star Dev Patel into superstardom. I don't know what he was doing before then, but starring in a Best Picture winner as your first major movie role is something that will certainly boost your career. He then followed up by playing the villain in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender." That was an unfortunate setback, yet Patel took that hit on the chin and continued to advance his career with interesting roles.

He has been in both dramas and comedy, playing lead and supporting roles. Though he is rarely an audience draw himself, audiences universally appreciate his work. With "Monkey Man" Patel not only is reinventing himself as an action star but is stepping into the role of writer and director as well. Reportedly Patel offered the directing job to his "Chappie" boss Neill Blompkamp. However, Neill turned it down and suggested Patel direct himself. Though Patel's direction has some rough spots, I can confidently say he saw something in Patel that I could not have predicted.

The story of "Monkey Man" follows a young underground street fighter who has struggled for years to make a living wage. Put in this position due to an attack on his village, the young man has years of rage built up inside of him. One day he has enough and it comes out in a quest for revenge and justice. What viewers are treated to is a hardcore action movie with lots of faces being punched, rapid sequence cuts, and blaring music with flashing lights. It reminded me a lot of "John Wick." Actually, "John Wick" gets a mention from one of the characters, so chances are Patel wanted you to know what the inspiration for "Monkey Man" was.

The movie is very much one for fans of this type of action film. People who like romantic comedies and serious dramas are likely to be put off by how brutal and silly the movie is simultaneously. It exists to shoot dopamine 360 degrees and then some. Throw in some underlying social commentary on poverty and corruption in India, and you have a movie that can kick-start a new franchise for Universal. On that note, I want to take a moment to discuss how we almost didn't see this film. The movie was bought by Netflix who planned to use it as a way to strengthen their reputation in India.

When they saw the film they felt the movie would hurt their reputation more than help, and almost shelved the film completely. Thankfully, Jordan Peele found out about it and convinced Universal to pick it up for $10 million. I don't know what's worse: the fact that the world almost missed another great shelved movie or the fact that it happened to a film with a mostly non-caucasian cast. This is the kind of movie that can be enjoyed by action lovers regardless of skin color or culture, and the fact that executives are still thinking in binary terms is frustrating.