Frank Grillo proves he can deliver action and comedy as the leading man over and over again while stuck in a time loop.
PLOT AND STORY
A retired special forces officer is trapped in a never ending time loop on the day of his death. Roy Pulver, a retired special forces soldier wakes up and finds his life is in jeopardy from a group of eccentric mercenaries. He fights them off as long as he can until he ultimately dies, then wakes up to do it all over again.
Time Loop movies are not a new invention but they do seem to be on an upward trend over recent years. All the way back in 1993 we had Groundhog Day but more recently the likes of Happy Death Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Palm Springs. What I liked about Boss Level is how it took the time loop story in a different direction. It wasn’t trying to be just ultra-violent like Happy Death Day or just funny like Groundhog Day, it actually formed a happy medium between the two.
A story by Chris and Eddie Borey with the screenplay written and directed by Joe Carnahan. Carnahan is a writer/director who makes movies that I always like but don’t always receive the best reviews. I feel Boss Level might fall into this same trap. Like The A-Team, Smokin Aces, The Grey and Stretch I really enjoyed Boss Level because it’s a simple story to follow with an abundance of action and light hearted humour. I think Boss Level will appeal to anyone who likes movies like Deadpool, Hancock or The Losers.
PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION
In today’s standards Boss Level was made on a relatively small budget of around 45 million dollars but I would stand the action and effects in this movie alongside any of the recent big budget Hollywood blockbusters.
High octane, fast paced hand to hand and weaponry sequences fill this movie from the opening seconds to the final scene. I always admire any action scenes that play out on single shots for as long as possible and boss level does this well a few times throughout. I hate nothing more than watching a punch then cut then kick then cut then punch then cut and so on and I’m glad to say this isn’t one of those movies. Maybe it’s the cast, the crew or a combination of both but I found the pace, direction and delivery of this movie to be spot on.
The movie starts off like its a computer game which works with the title Boss Level. Some subtle homages to side scrollers and beat em ups make the opening sequence quite nostalgic for 90’s gamers. The longer the movie goes on the less and less the computer game gimmick features and eventually by the end the movie has absolutely no video game reference at all. I feel this might have been more a marketing tool rather than a theme for the movie.
There were a couple of things though that did bother me. Firstly the fourth wall narration was fine but it did over play itself a little at the start. I find narration is often used when you either can’t or don’t want to show something, but in Boss Level, especially at the beginning it was essentially telling the audience what they were seeing so it seemed a little pointless at times. The second issue I had was with the Cast’s delivery. Other than Grillo, everyone else seemed incredibly dull and flat and we are talking about a cast which includes comedian Ken Jeong, Oscar Nominated Niomi Watts and Mel Gibson as the villain. It felt like all the attention was on Frank Grillo and the rest of the cast were just told to turn up and say their lines. I’m not sure if this was direction from Carnahan or artistic choices on the actors parts but it did hurt the overall feel of the movie.
I have been a fan of Frank Grillo since I first discovered him in the TV series Prison Break. He then shot to fame more in the Captain America and Avengers movies but stood out more as the lead in the Purge movies. I would say Grillo was cast perfectly for the role of Roy Pulver. His filmography speaks for itself but what I like the most about him in this movie is that he was able to show how funny he can be. Most of his other roles find him as the straight edge action man but Boss Level allowed him to bring something different to the table and he smashed it.
I have previously mentioned about the rest of the cast and their underwhelming performances so I don’t need to say much more on that. I found Mel Gibson to be the most disappointing because his character Colonel Ventor was quite confusing to read. Was he just a passionate businessman? Did he want to take over the world? Was he crazy or just stupid? An odd character with a performance equally as odd.
I think Boss Level is a fun and entertaining action romp which doesn’t require much brain power to watch. If you like fighting and explosions with some sarcastic comedy and quippy one liners then you will enjoy this. If you’re looking for something to make you think and stretch your mind then maybe give this a miss. This is what I refer to as a popcorn movie, sit back, relax and just enjoy the ride.