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SYFY WIRE Monkey Man

Dev Patel's Monkey Man Premieres at SXSW to Standing Ovation - What Critics Are Saying: "Forget John Wick"

Dev Patel's directorial debut got a very warm reception at its world premiere.

By Matthew Jackson
Dev Patel holds a camera on the set of his film Monkey Man (2024).

At SXSW on Monday night, Dev Patel debuted something new in his already wide-ranging career: An action movie. But not just any action movie: An action movie he stars in, co-wrote, and for the first time, directed. 

And the audience could not get enough. 

After its world premiere at the Paramount Theater in Austin Monday, Patel took the stage while the credits rolled on Monkey Man, his directorial debut, and soaked in what turned out to be a two-minute standing ovation as more than 1,000 moviegoers cheered the film. An emotional Patel soaked it all in, celebrating the reveal of a labor of love that he'd been working on since before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production. 

But the love didn't stop at the theater doors. Critics immediately began heaping on praise on Patel's film, a revenge drama set in India about a lowly fighter who seeks to topple the corrupt officials who killed his mother. Here's what just a few of them have said about Monkey Man so far.

What Critics Are Saying About Dev Patel's Monkey Man

Monkey Man is bloody and intense," Brian Tallerico of wrote. "Bones break, blood spurts, and you feel the connection in ways you don’t often in action lately—even the good stuff has gone more highly-choreographed like John Wick or Mission: Impossible. While the choreography here is still phenomenal, there’s a sweaty, improvised quality to it that adds to its kinetic thrust. It’s impossible to look away or know what’s coming next."

"In these scenes, however gruesome, Patel becomes his own hero, embodying the kind of smooth valor he’s always admired," Lovia Gyarkye wrote in The Hollywood Reporter.

Jordan Peele and Dev Patel smile together at SXSW.

"The highest highs are frankly extraordinary," Jacob Hall wrote at Slashfilm. "I can't help but feel Patel's first-time-director energy, that 'I may never get to do this again' vibe that pulsates throughout the film and leads to its overstuffed plate, doesn't allow it to fully take flight. The good news is that Patel is clearly going to work again. He's just getting started."

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"Though he’s done other interesting work, namely the recent Green Knight, this is the moment that feels like he is reintroducing himself on his own terms and with the film he has shaped most," Chase Hutchinson wrote at TheWrap. "That shape may be beaten to a pulp, but it couldn’t be any other way. Just as Kid is reborn in the film, so too is Patel. It requires fighting a bloody battle, but what a beautiful sight it is to see. Forget John Wick, let no one doubt the power of action star Dev Patel again."

A love letter to Patel's lifelong obsession with action movies, Monkey Man is the story of Kid, who digs deep into a quest for revenge that's been decades-in-the-making, using every tool at his disposal along the way. Brutal, fast-paced, and filled with references to action cinema that genre fans are sure to love, it's the kind of movie that will play great with a crowd, so don't see it alone.

Monkey Man hits theaters Apr. 5. Get tickets now.