director: Joe Carnahan (the grey, smokin' aces)
starring: frank grillo, mel gibson, naomi watts and ken jeong
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A retired military operative finds himself in a never-ending time loop on the day of his death.
I love a good film surprise. An upcoming release that has slipped past you unnoticed but is thoroughly entertaining. While the overarching theme of time loops isn’t that much of an original idea, it’s the ensemble cast, action and overall execution that makes Boss Level such a damn entertaining ride.
Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) has a helluva problem: Every morning, he’s slaughtered by assassins in different ways. Sometimes he’s shot, then blown up, or beheaded, or stabbed — then that day starts anew, on and on, for reasons he can’t figure out. A former Delta Force member, Roy needs to figure out why he’s stuck in this repeating loop in time and space, how he can save his ex-wife (Naomi Watts) and 11-year-old son, and what an evil military scientist named Ventor (Mel Gibson) wants with something called “The Osiris Spindle.” By setting things right, Roy can become the best version of himself – if he can save himself from being killed again.
Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow and even the recent Palm Springs have played with the whole time loop repeating your day kinda plot point. But what made me not only sit up and pay attention but thoroughly entertained me throughout was the subtle touches of originality that is peppered throughout Boss Level.
It's the video game structure that they play in and with throughout, the introduction of the sci-fi Osiris Spindle and the different ways that Pulver and his would-be assassins die that grab your attention by the throat and entertain you all the way. The ending may leave some slightly frustrated but when you actually consider the logic and structure that the film develops it makes perfect sense.
The action at times can be brutal, reminiscent of Carnahan’s previous work in Smokin’ Aces, but it’s just so damn entertaining and at times quite hilarious. Within the replays of Ray’s various repeated deaths, Carnahan perfectly steers us away from bored repetition through different and varied shots.
Boss Level has a next level cast too. Often when I see such an A list cast surrounding a not so well known lead actor I’m suspicious that the A listers have very minor roles. Not so in Boss Level as we see Watts, Gibson, Wallis and Jeong feature heavily throughout. Grillo is perfect in the role of Pulver - brash, brutal and always fighting for what is right.
While the overarching theme of time loops isn’t that much of an original idea, it’s the ensemble cast, action and overall execution that makes Boss Level such a damn entertaining ride.