Boss Level is a 2021 Amazon Prime original, a new take on the Groundhog Day format. In this film, it’s ex-soldier Roy (Frank Grillo) who repeats the same day over and over, with every day culminating in his death. It’s a format that has quite frankly been done to death, but despite this Boss Level is still an entertaining and fairly enjoyable film.
The film opens with a video game style title screen and the words ‘Attempt 138’, followed by Roy Pulver (Grillo) being rudely disturbed from his slumber by a machete holding assailant. The woman sharing his bed (Annabelle Wallis) runs off in fright and through a voiceover, we learn that Roy has done this many times before, as he singlehandedly fights off the attacker and a machine gun wielding helicopter that pops up outside his apartment window. Violence and explosions ensue, as Roy flees his apartment and escapes by carjacking a Mustang. He’s being hunted by numerous mercenaries and through flashbacks of his previous lives, we meet some of them including Pam (Meadow Williams), a minivan driving Hitler fanatic, and Guan Yin (Selina Lo), a samurai sword expert with a mightily irritating catchphrase. No matter what Roy does, every day these mercenaries catch and kill him and he never lives past 12:47pm. He spends most of his days in a café run by Jake (Ken Jeong), conversing with fellow customers Dave (Sheaun McKinney) and Dai Feng (Michelle Yeoh) and getting very drunk on Japanese spirits.
We flashback to the day before today, where Roy visited his ex Jemma (Naomi Watts) who’s also the mother to his son. Jemma is working in a top-secret facility ran by shady Colonel Ventor (Mel Gibson) and guarded by Head of Security Brett (Will Sasso). Jemma’s behaviour is erratic as she cuts off bits of Roy’s hair and struggles to explain her actions, all while being overseen by Ventor. Roy leaves and gets drunk in a bar, meeting dental hygienist Alice (Wallis) and receiving a cryptic phone call from Jemma that is cut off by Ventor. The next day while repeating his time loop, Roy discovers Jemma is dead and soon realises that everything Jemma said to him the previous day might be the answer to getting out of his loop for good.
As I’ve already mentioned, this type of time loop format has been done many times before and while I wouldn’t say Boss Level’s take is 100% original (it has a lot of similarities with Happy Death Day), it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. This was mostly down to the rather light-hearted, general silliness of it all – watching Roy’s various deaths is often very amusing – and from Frank Grillo’s performance. He can really pull off the gruff, deadpan nature of his character and it fits in so well with the general plot and a good script that’s full of wisecracks and one-liners. I laughed out loud on more than on occasion and this film works best when taken lightly. That said, the action scenes and especially the hand to hand combat are well choreographed and done excellently, although more of these would’ve been nice as sadly this is let down by poor CGI when it focuses on other types of action.
One of the things that annoyed me the most about this film was the ending. Roy is a very likeable character and to end the way it did without a proper resolution was very frustrating. I also think that aside from Grillo, the rest of the performances here were fairly forgettable. Grillo’s son Rio playing Roy’s son Joe was fairly adorable at least and Gibson seems to have made a niche for himself playing villains, although I think here his villain Ventor wasn’t given nearly enough screen time to be truly effective or threatening. Selina Lo as Guan Yin was probably the most irritating character but I think this was more down to the script and the choice to give her a catchphrase that was funny the first time round but got old very quickly.
Overall Boss Level is a fun and entertaining take on the time loop format. Grillo makes it immensely watchable although sadly I think this is the kind of film that winds up ultimately forgettable.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!