Thursday, April 4, 2024

He seeks revenge in 'Monkey Man'


 Dev Patel makes his directorial debut with Monkey Man, a movie that sometimes looks like an Indian variation on the orchestrated frenzy we find in John Wick movies. 
  Whatever Patel is trying to accomplish in Monkey Man, he’s in a hurry to do it. The rushed immediacy and rapid-fire editing of early scenes allow little time to relax.
   A minimal storyline soon emerges. Kid (played by Patel) hustles to survive on the mean streets of an Indian City where wealth and luxury contrast with abject poverty.
  Kid knows how to live with pain. He earns money in bare-fisted fights in which he wears a gorilla mask. Usually, he’s beaten to a bloody pulp in front of jeering crowds who bet against him.
  The movie's real agenda emerges in a fragmented flashbacks to Kid's life as a child. Kid, we learn, aims to avenge the death of his mother (Adithi Kalkunte). She was killed by a brutal police chief (Sikandar Kher) for resisting his sexual advances during a raid aimed at dispersing the poor community where she lived.  
  Kid’s mother represents a near fairy-tale innocence that connects Kid to a lost past, as well as to mythology that references Hanuman, a Hindu deity. 
  At times, the narrative feels as if it's bouncing off walls.. At one point, Kid acquires a sidekick (Pitobsh Tripathi) who adds comic leavening but quickly vanishes.
  Patel wisely slows his freight train of movie down when a badly battered Kid finds refuge with a guru figure (Vipin Sharma), who takes him on a drug trip and encourages him to connect with this noble warrior self — or some such. 
 Throughout, Patel creates a character fueled by seething, concentrated anger that makes Kid immune to distraction.
  Kid shows some humanity when he takes care of a street dog that appears during scenes in which he lands a job at a  posh nightclub, which also functions as a high-end brothel where his enemies engage in debauched amusements.
     A final showdown offers two pivotal confrontations. The Wick movies allow us to feel the exuberance that the filmmakers put into concocting increasingly creative action sequences. Here, that feeling comes across as tight-jawed resolve.
     References to the city’s impoverished underside are vivid but fleeting. The movie also weaves its way through political references involving a corrupt leader (Makrand Deshpande) who claims allegiance with the common folk.
   If Patel wanted to blend culture and genre, he does so successfully in a scene in which Kid trains on the heavy bag to the beat of an encouraging village drummer.
  The movie's unevenness occasionally creates a sense of jagged freshness but the frantic action comes with a price. Kid may be discover the person he was meant to be, but we're left wishing we had something more substantial to take from the movie's violent onrush.

No comments: