‘Monkey Man’ – an ambitious directorial debut

Dev Patel makes his directorial debut with his energetic, bloody and myth-weaving ‘Monkey Man’ (2024).

Drawing on the lore of the Hindu god Hanuman while racing through a revenge film akin to ‘John Wick’, Patel, who co-wrote, directed and stars in the Jordan Peele-produced action thriller, is clearly a multitalented man on a mission.

In the world of the film, Kid’s (Patel) undertaking is to avenge the death of his mother, an angelic and heroic figure who died at the hands of corrupt law enforcers facilitating a bigger political and religious movement.

While some of the film’s main plot points may seem familiar, where ‘Monkey Man’ steers away from the run-of-the-mill is in its treatment of its violent but vulnerable protagonist.

Characterising Kid as smart, reticent and resourceful, yet profoundly plagued by childhood trauma and initially less than ready to take on the city’s powerful forces and elites, ‘Monkey Man’ presents a hero who needs to heal both mentally and spiritually in order to exact the vengeance he so desperately seeks.

To this end, Kid stumbles upon some unlikely allies, a community of hijra (India’s third gender), who help him on his healing journey and facilitate his physical training, even as they face their own persecution and intimidation.

“This is an anthem for the underdog, the voiceless, the marginalised,” says Patel in an interview with Variety.

In the film, the contrast between the privileged and the poor, the haves and have-nots is stark and renders Kid almost invisible as he begins to circle his prey.

If you want offbeat action sequences, wild chases and striking cinematography, the film offers some creative ways to kill a man, supercharged rickshaws and vivid scenes from India’s underbelly.

If you like Patel for his more soulful and tender turns, ‘Monkey Man’s’ Kid is ferocious, but deep feeling.

Inviting some real-life reflection as it decries morally corrupt prophets, divisive and discriminatory religious nationalism and bad cops, ‘Monkey Man’ is an uneven but ambitious directorial debut for Patel, while solidifying his status as an action star.

Want to win a movie ticket to see ‘Monkey Man’ (2024) or a movie of your choice at Ster-Kinekor?

Simply answer the following question: On which Hindu god’s lore does ‘Monkey Man’ (2024) draw?

Email your name, cellphone number and answer to weekender@namibian.com.na

– martha@namibian.com.na; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com

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