Spoilers will shoot first.
Okey, apparently I’m not bored of time loop films yet. At this point, I might make them a sub-genre. Now, in case there’s any doubt, this movie is pandering, it is derivative of a lot of other films, it has very little remorse and it knows exactly what it is. Do we need another action flick where… Yes. Yes, we do. Mindless entertainment has value and its value is just for entertainment’s sake. You’ll need your popcorn, you’ll need to pick a weekend so it can be loud and you’ll need to forget words like “continuity” and “character development” for the duration of this film.
Boss Level (2021) was directed by Joe Carnahan, who wrote the screenplay with Chris and Eddie Borey. The plot (because I guess we need one) is simple. Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) is a retired Special Forces guy (of course he is) that wakes up each day with a ton of people trying to kill him until he unavoidably bites the bullet. The theme is very much gaming to the point of cartoonish action, violence and humour. In case someone doesn’t get it, there’s even a voiceover that explains everything and old school gaming style notices on screen. Roy’s ex Jemma Wells (Naomi Watts) is a scientist working on a secret experiment. Her boss, and number one bad guy, is Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson).
I think at this point you have figured out what happens. Enter a number of colorful bad guys and gals stepping over each other just for a chance to kill Roy. Memorable amongst them is Guan Yin (Selina Lo) complete with deadly chinese sword and ending catchphrase. Other colorful non-combatant characters in Roy’s day to die are Jemma’s kid Joe (Rio Grillo, actually Frank’s son) who doesn’t know Roy is his father. Yes, this is another film in which the hero is an absentee father and somehow still a friend to his son. We sort of forgive him when he just chooses to spend his endless re-run of day bonding with him, but it’s still mess up. We also get the neighborhood diner chef Jake (Ken Jeong) and Dai Feng (Michelle Yeoh) a martial arts teacher who just happens to drop in at the diner.
So does it work? Yes. No. Sometimes. Basically some runs are more fun than others. I did get caught by the scenes with Roy bonding with Joe and only learn after that they’re real-life father and son. Probably that added some level of real-life endearment. Obviously a lot of characters are underused: Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong and obviously Naomi Watts (I’m not judging them, we all have to pay the bills). Even Mel Gibson does a little too little. His Colonel Ventor character does go into a machiavellian speech of evil with a running meta-commentary voiceover by Roy, but he’s not a particularly hard boss to defeat. Actually it’s Selina Lo’s Guan Yin who proves herself the baddest, meanest and hardest opponent to beat in the movie’s runtime.
Recommended for mindless fun best watched with popcorn on the side with some obligatory reservations. Obviously it’s pandering to the gaming and action flick enthusiasts and the plot is hella repetitive by nature of time loop. It also lacks a completely satisfying boss fight at the end, which might be its biggest drawback. However, a lot of the fights are fun to watch and it can be fulfilling to see an evil minion get their comeuppance. Worth a watch, although it will feel like several.
That will do for now.