This is the one movie you need to see in theaters this month — and it’s 91% on Rotten Tomatoes

Dev Patel as Kid in Monkey Man
(Image credit: Universal Pictures / BFA / Alamy)

Primates are taking over the cinema this year. “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is already in theaters, and “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” arrives next month, but the real simian superstar can be found in “Monkey Man” an explosive new action movie from Dev Patel. 

“Monkey Man” swings into theaters this weekend and I was fortunate enough to catch an early preview screen and trust me, you’re going to want to make the effort to catch this incredible thriller on the big screen. 

Right now, “Monkey Man” sits alongside “Dune: Part Two” and “Late Night with the Devil” as an early frontrunner for my favorite movie of 2024.

If you’re looking for something new to watch this weekend, there are plenty of streaming options out there, but here’s why “Monkey Man” is worth a trip to your local multiplex.

‘Monkey Man’ is a pure adrenaline rush 

“Monkey Man” marks the directorial debut of Dev Patel, and the multi-talented Brit also co-wrote the movie and plays the lead role of an unnamed protagonist who is hellbent on hunting down those responsible for the brutal murder of his mother. 

While his quest starts as a self-destructive revenge mission, along the way he becomes a beacon of hope to the poor and powerless people as his single-minded mission pits him against corrupt leaders poisoning society around them. 

While I’ve seen crude comparisons calling the movie “John Wick in Mumbai”, it’s important to note that “Monkey Man” is so much more than a cheap imitation. Mumbai is practically its character in the movie. While the movie was not shot on location, Patel does a remarkable job of exploring the seedy underbelly of a city teeming with life and vibrancy. 

The simplistic narrative is stretched a little thin over its two-hour runtime — the second act is especially stodgy — but “Monkey Man's" most memorable moments deliver some of the best action sequences I’ve seen since “The Raid 2” back in 2014. One claustrophobic encounter in a club bathroom is particularly wince-inducing as the combatants skirmish across the white tiles and make creative use of the setting.   

Dev Patel in 'Monkey Man'

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Patel’s use of intense violence is highly impressive. “Monkey Man” is extremely graphic with bones shattered, arteries slashed and countless bodies broken, but the brutality is never gratuitous, and it always feels purposefully placed. Though, if you have a weak disposition, this may not be the movie for you, as things get gnarly.  

The first-time director doesn’t just have control over the action sequences, the movie frequently serves up stylish scenes with stunning visuals that are a joy to watch. A recurring segment that sees Patel’s protagonist compete in an underground boxing ring is a highlight in this regard creating a location that feels so real you can almost smell it. Aside from a few narrative shortcomings, “Monkey Man” rarely falters.  

‘Monkey Man’ reviews — the critics also love it 

If my enthusiastic rambling above wasn’t enough to convince you that “Monkey Man” is worth shelling out for an expensive cinema ticket, then perhaps its 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes (At time of writing) will do the trick. Clearly, I’m not alone in my love of this movie. 

Philip De Semlyen of Time Out said, “The new Dev Patel is taking no prisoners in this slice of Mumbai mayhem, announcing himself as a filmmaker with possibly the most ferocious mainstream action movie since The Raid.” Meanwhile, Empire Magazine called the movie “Stylish, high-energy, smart and eye-wateringly violent.”

AV Club’s Matthew Jackson was similarly impressed by “Monkey Man” in their review. “It’s a muscular, emotional, ferocious triumph of a movie, and when it’s over, you’ll want to go right back in and watch it all over again,” wrote Jackson. Lovia Gyarkye of The Hollywood Reporter called Patel “a fine hero” and praised his growth since his acting debut in the cult U.K. teen drama “Skins”.  

While the majority of critics appear to be quite taken with “Monkey Man”, Variety’s Owen Gleiberman was less positive criticizing the movie for lacking “depth” and for its “thin, awkward and lurching story.”  

Movie theaters were made for ‘Monkey Man’ 

“Monkey Man” was actually supposed to be a movie heading straight to streaming. After making some industry waves, Netflix acquired the distribution rights, but after Jordan Peele saw a rough cut of the film, he was able to bring the movie to Universal through his Monkeypaw Productions company. Now, “Monkey Man” is debuting on the big screen where it belongs. 

Movie fans owe a great debt to Peele for this part in getting the action movie a theatrical release, as “Monkey Man” is very much the type of flick that theaters need right now. In a cinematic landscape dominated by sequels, remakes and bland comic book movies, this original action thriller is a much-needed breath of fresh air. And I’ll be rooting for its box office receipts to match its critical reception. 

So, if you’re looking for something new to watch in theaters, skip the forgettable blockbusters stuffed with unconvincing CGI, and go see “Monkey Man” instead. It’s a movie that will have you bolt upright in your seat captivated by its sheer energy. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.