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  • Writer's pictureAidan Fronza

Monkey Man (2024)

By Aidan Fronza

Broken toes. Broken hand. Broken equipment. Seemingly, everything that could have gone wrong in Dev Patel’s visceral directorial debut, Monkey Man, did. And yet, the film still ended up on top. Well… at least not at first. Dropped by Netflix because of its “political undertones,” and with a production plagued by disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and a reluctant financier), Patel believed his 10-year passion project would never see the light of day. That was before the film’s savior, Jordan Peele, stepped in, bringing the film to theaters and encouraging Universal to buy. However, knowing most of this, I was nervous to see if the film lived up to the hype. Let me just say, if you’re a fan of non-stop action, desperate revenge, and blaring music: you will NOT be disappointed. If not, prepare to change your mind. Patel has been doing that to others his whole career.

“…if you’re a fan of non-stop action, desperate revenge, and blaring music: you will NOT be disappointed.”

I’ll be honest. I would love to say I was rooting for Patel as the underdog for as long as I could remember. However, I only learned about his struggles making the film leading up to its release. In fact, I was unfamiliar primarily with Patel’s filmography (besides his small roles in some of Wes Anderson’s recent short films, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Poison). It was actually my dad (our own Tony Fronza) who was more experienced with Patel. Of course, he has not seen Patel in such shorts (given his complicated feelings about Anderson…). Yet, he has seen and talked about many of Patel’s films. Most notably, I vividly remember him telling me about Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. On multiple occasions, he expressed to me how much he loved that film and Patel’s performance. As such, he has recommended the film more times than I can count (which I have still failed to see out of spite… kidding). Jokes aside, watching Patel in interviews and reading articles about his experience making the film has made me want to visit his past work.


And that’s not even getting into the film itself.



Patel’s film is so much more than your typical modern action flick. And no problem if that is your thing. That only means you will be more likely to be amazed. Patel’s film is a roller coaster of pain, success, failure, fighting, comedy, aspiration, love, and, most importantly, more fighting. I am not the first to say that this film has some of the best fight sequences of any film ever. Seriously. Patel’s physicality rivals that of genre icons Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. The latter, which Patel cites in films such as Enter the Dragon, sparked his inspiration to make movies. And he ended up making a great one.


If I’ve not convinced you enough, Patel’s film has the most heart of any film I have seen in a while. Even if chaotic brawls, awesome training montages, and making the bad guys pay (BIG time) are not your thing, Patel’s film is worth it merely for its commitment to being itself.


Check out my dad’s review below!

 

By Tony Fronza

Since his breakout film Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel's onscreen presence has captivated my attention. Patel plays the ordinary man who finds himself in peculiar situations better than most actors I've seen, and his portrayal of the character Kid in Monkey Man was nothing short of that.

"Monkey Man may be one of the BEST films I've ever seen."

This movie has it all: Crisp writing, sharp acting, vigorous fight scenes, and a unique, fablesque storyline that captivates and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.



I didn't realize until after the film that Dev Patel starred, directed, wrote, AND produced this movie (of course, Aidan knew this and was the one who informed me). I struggle to comprehend the weight of one contribution to produce a motion picture, so realizing Patel spent a decade bringing his dream to the screen and playing all major roles in its execution was, in a word, astounding.


Monkey Man may be one of the BEST films I've ever seen. It poetically bundles the love and unbreakable bond between a son and his mother with remorse, revenge, and redemption. I also think this is a movie that is best viewed on the silver screen; though I wouldn't bypass seeing it when it's available to rent via VOD or premium streaming in the future. Aidan and I were fortunate enough to watch Monkey Man in all its cinematic glory at one of AMC's Dolby Cinema "Completely Captivating" theaters, and I HIGHLY recommend you do the same, if possible.


Check out our podcast episode where Aidan and I discuss this amazing film in more detail!

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