A High Octane Thrill Ride
Boss Level has absolutely no right to be as good and entertaining as it is. After all, the idea of a time-loop reversal has been rehashed, recycled and repeated in almost every genre imaginable. From teen slashers and comedies through to expansive alien battlefields, you need to be doing something pretty special to stand out in this field. Thankfully, this movie is all kinds of special.
The premise is simple but don’t be fooled by the glossy façade and wise-cracking gags; this film plays on several different layers, each more interesting and clever than the last.
The first 20 minutes waste absolutely no time pummeling you with a non-stop, bombastic sensory treat. Through this heady cacophony of explosions, car chases and gun-fire stems some wickedly witty narration that helps to ground this film with some simple but effective exposition.
Roy Pulver is our time-loop victim this time, a retired special forces officer who finds himself trapped in a never ending death loop with an array of colourful assassins lusting for blood. Despite 140+ attempts to navigate this violent labyrinth of death, Roy has never managed to progress past 12:47pm.
Yet through this violent nightmarish day are glimmers of hope. Roy begins to piece together fragments of the time before his infinite-day, and these seemingly insignificant bites of dialogue come into play during the second act of this movie. It’s here where Boss Level starts to move beyond its quirky opener, shifting its central plot-driven question from ‘what’ to ‘why’.
This ultimately envelops the movie in a thin veil of mystery that give this such much-needed depth. It also helps that beyond the obvious action and bloody violence is Roy, who prove himself to be a very likable character.
Played by Frank Grillo, this man is an absolute work-horse (one quick glance at his filmography will tell you as much) and he’s given free-reign to really make this movie his own. Alongside him is the ever-enigmatic Mel Gibson too, but beyond a chilling monologue he doesn’t have a lot else to do beyond the “disposable antagonist” role.
It’s also worth noting that for all its good work, Boss Level does end on a slightly ambiguous, open note. Personally, I think this works quite well, with enough left to the imagination to figure out what happens next. Those who prefer something more conclusive though will almost certainly be left a little disappointed, believing this may be a nod toward a possible sequel.
Stylistically, Boss Level feels like a medley of different influences. The narration feels like it’s been ripped right from Memento while the visual cues and storyline feel like they’ve been cobbled together from Happy Death Day and Scott Pilgrim VS The World. The ensuing result is something that feels both totally original and instantly familiar.
The twists are enough to keep you watching though and while this is unlikely to win any Oscars, this is a damn good movie nonetheless and a reminder of how fun these action flicks can be. Boss Level is a bombastic, big-screen blockbuster done right.
Boss Level isn’t trying to be anything but an entertaining 100 minutes of high-octane fun. Based on the end result, that’s something this movie executes to perfection.