Action Boss Level

Film Review: ‘Boss Level’ is a Derivative Actioner That’s Dead on Arrival

March 9, 2021Ben MK

What if you mashed up John Wick, Taken and Happy Death Day? Admittedly, that sounds like a fun premise that would make for an entertaining-as-hell action flick. Unfortunately, however, Boss Level botches the execution of this promising concept almost every step of the way.

The film follows ex-Special Forces tough guy Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), as he repeats the same day — and does battle with the same plethora of bloodthirsty enemies — over and over again. Why he's stuck in this seemingly infinite time loop is a mystery Roy spends most of the movie trying to uncover. But this much is certain — it has something to do with a highly classified project known as Osiris, an experimental time manipulation device that his scientist ex-wife Jemma (Naomi Watts) is working on for a maniacal military colonel named Clive (Mel Gibson). Oh, and did we mention that Osiris also has the power to bring about the end of the world?

Needless to say, the stakes are most definitely high. And for Roy, it's also intensely personal, especially with the lives of Jemma and their son Joe (Grillo's real-life son, Rio) thrown into the mix. What follows, on the other hand, manages to be little more than derivative straight-to-digital schlock, with cringe-worthy dialogue, laughable pseudo-scientific exposition, and bad guys pulled straight out of better films like the aforementioned John Wick series and Kill Bill. At one point, Watts' character refers to the technology behind Osiris as "cobbled together," but she might as well be referring to the plot.

That said, director Joe Carnahan (of Smokin' Aces fame) has pulled together quite an impressive group of actors, which nonetheless works in the film's favor as one of its very few bright spots. In addition to Grillo, Watts and Gibson, we also have Ken Jeong as a very Ken Jeong-esque diner owner, Annabelle Wallis as a dental hygienist with a hidden agenda, and Michelle Yeoh as a martial arts expert whose sword-wielding skills come in handy just when Roy needs them. How any of them were convinced to join the cast is a mystery in and of itself, but their combined presence at least serves to make the overall experience a little more palatable.

Suffice to say, if Boss Level were an emergency room inpatient, it would be declared dead on arrival, with little to offer hardcore action fans, let alone general audiences. If you're a glutton for punishment like Roy appears to be, however, you might just find some enjoyment in suffering through it.

Boss Level releases March 9th, 2021 from VVS Films and is also streaming on Hulu. The film is rated TV-MA. Its runtime is 1 hr. 34 min.

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