I was so distracted last week by being annoyed at the new Road House trailer, I missed the first trailer for a film I VERY much care about—Monkey Man, Dev Patel’s directorial debut.
The Monkey Man trailer dropped on Friday, and it is just the palate cleanser we need, an actually cool, stylish trailer for an action movie that isn’t remaking a classic. Dev Patel stars in, produces, co-writes, and directs Monkey Man, a revenge thriller set in Mumbai. It’s loosely described as “John Wick in Mumbai”, and I get the connection, but really, Monkey Man has class warfare and caste system connotations, and it’s about an ex-con who fights against “corporate greed eroding spiritual values” to avenge his mother’s death, which isn’t John Wick at all. I guess we’re just using “John Wick but X” to mean any kind of revenge narrative now.
The trajectory of this film is interesting. It was first announced in 2018, then after the film was completed in 2021, Netflix bought it. But then Jordan Peele screened the film and thought it deserved a theatrical release, so he bought it off Netflix to be distributed by Universal through his own Monkey Paw Productions banner, which has an output deal at that studio. Kudos to whoever arranged for Jordan Peele to watch this movie and save it from disappearing into the Netflix content firehose.
The trailer features a lot of imagery evoking Hanuman, the Hindu half-man/half-monkey god, who might now also be familiar as the gorilla god referenced by the Jabari tribe in Black Panther. Hanuman is important to the Ramayana, and one of his central myths is about Hanuman helping Prince Rama save his wife, Sita. Among his many attributes is that he’s a demon slayer, and he is often portrayed as having mystical powers, both of which seem relevant to Monkey Man. I am SUPER curious to see what Dev Patel can do as a director, but I am ALSO into Dev Patel starring in another awesome action movie (please watch The Wedding Guest).
As you may recall, I have been banging the drum of casting Dev Patel as the next James Bond for years.
I know he says he doesn’t want the role, but I will still be absolutely furious if they cast some pudding ass white guy as Bond (again) while Dev Patel is standing RIGHT THERE. I am already bracing for the day Callum Turner is announced as the next Bond!
But to go back to Monkey Man, I am heartened that it is getting a theatrical release—Road House should get one, too, frankly—but I am ESPECIALLY heartened that Universal gave this film a three-minute trailer. Movie trailers are supposed to be under two and a half minutes, but studios get a handful of exceptions for each year for longer trailers, which are usually reserved for big movies (for instance, Warner Bros. Discovery has been using their exceptions for Dune: Part Two). Universal has a number of big films coming out this year, including Wicked, Twisters, and Gladiator 2, all of which seem like candidates for an expanded trailer. But they’re playing a wild card for Monkey Man, which is promising. Almost as promising as casting Dev Patel as the next Bond.
Look into your hearts—you know he’s the one!