Dev Patel’s Monkey Man is not revolutionary, but it brings some refreshing newness
Monkey Man brings a spiritual and social justice element that is rare for an action film.
Lavan Kandiah
Other Professional
Toronto, Canada
Post image

Dev Patel’s new film, Monkey Man, has gotten both criticism and praise. Seemingly inspired by the Hindu epic Ramayana, the film follows Patel’s character Kid, an underground fighter looking to avenge the death of his mother by a corrupt police officer. There are several themes in the movie, including nods to religious divisions, and social and class discrimination.

Meet your match at!

Matches are made daily and serious relationships are created monthly across Canada, USA, UK, Germany & more!

As a whole, it is an entertaining movie. Action films can be notorious for mindless explosions, violence and fight scenes with little attention paid to character and storyline development. As a viewer of such mindless explosion-filled action films, I can say that Monkey Man does satisfactorily well in avoiding this blandness. As many have pointed out, there are some John Wick-esque elements in the fight sequences, colours and gun shopping scenes. Unlike John Wick however, Kid is not portrayed as an invincible weapon; he gets hurt and loses fights, more like a Jackie Chan character than a superhuman John Wick. These more human elements are refreshing; the splashes of humour throughout the movie, alongside the colours and nods to spirituality and social issues also set it apart from the countless action movies that rely purely on over-the-top adrenaline. 


Character development, however, though better than many action films, falls a bit short. Kid’s revenge motivations are made clear throughout the film, and the movie takes significant time to address his childhood trauma and the death of his mother through the spiritual rituals he undertakes with his hijra caretakers; however, we learn very little about the other characters. The motivations and backgrounds of the corrupt officer, Rana Singh, or his boss Baba Shakti (who we don’t see until the last few minutes) are not addressed. Sita, the beautiful prostitute who ends up helping Kid, is hinted throughout the film as having a potential motive to help the main character. But this is done through random, drawn-out shots of her pondering and concerned face as she repeatedly locks eyes with Kid throughout the film, undoubtedly showing there’s some mysterious force that drives her. But aside from the camera resting on her from time to time, she is never explored further and the audience learns nothing about her or her motivations, until she kills her brothel-owner boss without warning at the end of the film to save the hero.


Dev Patel’s allusions to social inequalities and spirituality, though a welcome addition, also end up falling short. While the inclusion of the hijra community is a noble attempt at contextualising discrimination and unique religious practices, the community and their history are not explored in any particular depth. Aside from periodic footage of children sleeping on the street and racial violence, the film does not explore social issues in detail. The destruction of Kid’s village is clearly laid out as the result of corporate greed and oppression of the poor, but is also not examined, aside from a few images of a protest and a burning village. The film’s Ramayana influence similarly falls by the wayside before a meaningful connection can be made. The movie ultimately ends up being a fairly typical revenge film, though a good one at that.


There has been some criticism that the movie is hollow and more of the same. You could make the case that it sort of is. The storyline is fairly predictable; a man driven to avenge the death of a woman, hunting down his enemy and ending in a typical climactic final battle. The shaky-cam fight scenes and plot-armour makes for a pretty standard revenge thriller. But it is nevertheless entertaining and offers some interesting commentary that sets it apart from its contemporaries.


Graphic by Sobica Vinayagamoorthy

Lavan Kandiah
Other Professional
Toronto,  Canada
Raised in Norway and Canada. Project manager, fitness enthusiast and BJJ addict who enj...
Raised in Norway and Canada. Project manager, fitness enthusiast and BJJ addict who enj...
You may also enjoy these
Nylan Parthipan is an 11-Year-Old Actor with a Disability Finding Success Voicing Popular Children's Shows Like Paw Patrol
Nylan is an 11-year-old child actor diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He is the first disabled voice actor with no prior acting experience.
From the Margins: A conversation with Writer and Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai
Leena talks to TC on her journey as a filmmaker, the recent backlash she faced and her Artist Residency at UofT's Jackman Institute.
PS-1: An Opportunity Missed
A look at how Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan despite it's popularity was an opportunity missed in depicting the Chola era in its most authentic self.

Jenani & Nav

met on myTamilDate
Join for Free Today
Madhu & Nia
met on myTamilDate
Join for Free Today
Network with TamilChangemakers
Videos Podcasts