Action Boy Kills World

Silent but Deadly: A TIFF Review of ‘Boy Kills World’

September 13, 2023Ben MK

Whether you're a man out to avenge the death of his beloved dog or a time-travelling cyborg out to prevent the annihilation of humanity, every action hero needs a good gimmick. It doesn't matter if you're Keanu Reeves or Arnold Schwarzenegger, without a good gimmick, even the most viscerally charged action blockbuster is merely an empty vessel for mindless violence. It's a tried-and-true principle that has ensured the continued longevity of some of the genre's most revered films. And with Boy Kills the World, director Moritz Mohr proves he understands the assignment, in this hyperkinetic thriller about a nameless assassin tasked with eliminating a despised government leader.

Set sometime in the near future, in a fascist, dystopian city ruled by an authoritarian dictator by the name of Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the story follows a deaf and mute assassin (Bill Skarsgård). Orphaned as a boy when Hilda had his mother and younger sister Mina slaughtered in the annual event known as the Culling, this assassin was raised and trained by the Shaman (Yayan Ruhian) for one purpose and one purpose only — to kill Hilda and the rest of the Van Der Koy family, including her siblings Melanie (Michelle Dockery) and Gideon (Brett Gelman), Melanie's idiot husband Glen (Sharlto Copley), and June 27 (Jessica Rothe). However, when the time comes for him to carry out his mission, the assassin will soon discover that things are not always as they appear to be. Even with some help from a pair of resistance fighters named Basho (Andrew Koji) and Benny (Isaiah Mustafa), the assassin will have his work cut out for him. But with only mere days before the next Culling begins, will he be able to complete his assignment in time to prevent more innocent blood from being spilled?

A frenetically paced, comic book-inspired beatdown where anything can happen and any character can meet a grisly demise at any time, the result is the kind of movie that seems tailor-made to please fans of over-the-top, manic mayhem. That said, the suberb, A-level action is oftentimes undercut by the cheesy, B-level plot. So while Boy Kills World qualifies as a no-holds barred action extravaganza in every sense of the word, storywise, it very nearly KO's itself trying to squeeze every last drop of blood from its simple, one-dimensional premise.

Boy Kills World screens under the Midnight Madness programme at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 52 min.

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