The ‘Monkey Man’ Reviews Are Here For Dev Patel’s Passion Project That Goes Beyond Just Another ‘John Wick’-Like Movie

With Dev Patel‘s directorial debut, Monkey Man, set to unleash its fury in theaters this week, the early reviews are here for this wild actioner. While it’s easy to compare Monkey Man to John Wick, Patel adds a far more personal touch and intensity as both the star and director of this brutal little film that leaves everything on the floor. Along with some teeth, blood, and whatever else flies off his enemies.

You can see what the critics are saying below:

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

Dev Patel brings the gonzo chaos for this very impressive writing-directing feature debut, with Jordan Peele on board as a producer; it’s a wildly over-the-top revenge action thriller on the teeming but uncliched streets of Mumbai – doubling as a boisterous satire of Modi-esque nationalism. As the lead performer, Patel shows us some pretty serious martial arts chops, kickboxing and thumping seven shades of ordure out of the punchbag, and then the bad guys – and periodically pausing, of course, attractively dropletted with sweat, to let us get an eyeful of those sculpted abs.

Brian Tallerico,

Dev Patel pours his entire self into “Monkey Man.” Some comes over the sides and the mix might not always be right but there’s an undeniable passion here that comes through in a genre that too often feels like it came off an assembly line. The writer, producer, star, director, and guy who broke a few bones filming this one name-checked Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung, “The Raid,” Korean action, Bollywood, and much more in his intro, and “Monkey Man” often has that overstuffed quality of a filmmaker who finally got his chance to see his visions on-screen and worried he may never get to do so again.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety:

I suspect, though, that “Monkey Man” may be too glum and plodding for much of the mainstream audience. I kept going in and out of the movie. Yet Patel does one thing superlatively well, and that’s using the film as a pedestal for his downbeat star performance. As Kid, he makes himself, quite deliberately, an unlikely action hero — skinny-muscled and morose, with an anger that simmers almost neurotically. When he finally explodes, it’s with a rage we only half saw coming.

David Fear, Rolling Stone:

It’s entering an environment in which some explosions, a shootout and a few haymakers here and there will no longer cut it. Everything must be a melee. Nothing less than nonstop beast mode will suffice. Luckily, Patel doesn’t have a problem with this way of thinking. In fact, his goal with his directorial debut is not to beat action moviemakers and A-list asskickers at their own game but to work his way into their ranks. A gleefully anarchic addition to the post-Raid: Redemption, post-John Wick world of mix-and-match fighting styles and adrenalized weapon-play, Patel’s pet project is as much a mash note to a way of presenting bloody-knuckled spectacle as it is a standard thriller.

Perri Nemiroff, Collider:

Sharone Meir’s cinematography has it all. Action scene or not, his visuals are all stunning and textured. Every ounce of the city feels lived in and highly atmospheric. On top of that, the closest Monkey Man comes to putting the viewer in Kid’s shoes is during those action set pieces, in large part thanks to Meir’s intimate and high-energy camerawork and the downright phenomenal stunt work. Patel, Meir, and the stunt team always successfully establish a sense of geography, whether a fight takes place in tight quarters or a more expansive space, and from there, there’s no holding back.

Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue:

That kind of passion exists because Patel knows how to captivate an audience both onscreen and now, as we can see, behind the camera, as well. It would be easy to make this your next John Wick obsession and make it all about a simple revenge story, but Monkey Man has elevated the idea of what a story like this should be.

Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter:

Patel makes a fine hero. The actor is a consistently charming presence whose capabilities have only grown since Skins and his breakthrough role in Slumdog. In Monkey Man, he delivers a mature performance on par with his work in David Lowery’s The Green Knight. Similar to Gawain, the Kid is out to prove the depth of his moral courage. Much of his commitment is tested through fight scenes in the first and third acts, which demonstrate Patel’s confidence as a director.

Monkey Man slams into theaters on April 5.