If you’re not a fan of comedic action movies, then don’t bother reading any further. Boss Level isn’t for you.
Similarly, if you’re sick of Groundhog Day-type stories in which the same day is replayed over and over, look away, my friend.
But if you enjoy any or all of the above, then Boss Level will be more fun than you’ve had all year.
Frank Grillo stars in this film directed by Joe Carnahan under the production company WarParty Films, which they founded. They’ve worked together in the past on films such as The Grey in 2011, and they have a beautifully symbiotic relationship.
According to Variety, WarParty Films pitches efficient and reasonably prices big-set action pics that have gone missing in the wake of the superhero genre of which Grillo was a part with his role as Brock Rumlow in the Avengers series.
If that’s their goal, then Boss Level delivers. It’s almost non-stop action and apparently was delivered about two weeks under its projected due date.
If it’s inexpensive, you’d never it by watching Boss Level. The sets and special effects are top-notch, and sharing the screen with Grillo are Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson, among others.
Grillo is Roy Pulver, an ex-special forces guy living the same day over and over again, getting killed every time. Grillo also does the voiceover for the various conundrums Roy finds himself in, and he makes an otherwise tired trope come alive.
Since the day repeats, Roy studies as the count increases. Voiceover is the only way the audience can grow closer to Roy as he learns from his mistakes and pieces together the clues that might tell him why he’s stuck in such a dastardly loop.
Those segments allow Roy to comment on his deadly mishaps, telling himself to “die already” and wonder aloud who in the hell thinks up some of the shit he’s subjected to. It’s fun.
Although Grillo carries the film on his sturdy shoulders, the story wouldn’t exist without many performers going toe-to-toe with him the entire way. There are some hardcore action scenes here, especially between Grillo and Selina Lo, who plays a murderous swords expert named Guan Yin.
Star Trek: Discovery’s Michelle Yeoh is another highlight as Dai Feng, who gets Roy well on his way to Boss Level, which is definitely a reference to the expert gaming level that allows successful gamers to slaughter their opponents.
Boss Level’s music is terrific, too; maybe because I’m old. But the flick’s use of Boston’s Long Time could get them onto the radar again. Bad Finger’s Day After Day is perfection and the Chambers Brothers Time Has Come Today couldn’t be more appropriate.
The Final Destination movies had to go out of their way to make every death as unique as possible, and Boss Level does the same.
With about a dozen assassins after Roy as the flick begins, there’s a lot of finesse involved in taking him down, and it’s just as amusing watching Roy later get the better of the opposition, turning the tide on his pursuers.
Roy doesn’t get it right the first time, or the 50th, or the 100th. He’s got to work at bettering his opponents, memorizing his previous moves, and restarting the day as efficiently as possible, becoming a master of his destiny.
At stake isn’t just his life, but those of his girlfriend (Watts) and his son, Joe (Grillo’s son, Rio). The more he discovers about his predicament, the more determined he becomes, and the more entertaining it is for us.
Watts and Gibson have supporting roles, at best. Their presence adds depth to the story, but the actors aren’t along for the challenge.
Watts is well beyond playing girlfriend in any movie, and Gibson as the bad guys is becoming a thing, but I kind of like it. He’s earned it in much the same way Grillo has earned his series of heroes – with a lot of hard work and dedication in the industry.
Boss Level isn’t wholly unique, but it’s an engaging and immersive watch. It puts a smile on your face while you cheer for the body count to pile up higher than the times Roy was struck down.
It’s never boring because Roy doesn’t just get the job done; he does it with panache, entertaining himself with his otherwise monotonous replaying of time.
It’s kind of a perfect partner for those of us who’ve voluntarily spent day after day alone in our homes, raising the ante in ways we’d never have thought we’d get such a kick out of.
But, here we are.
Life sometimes sucks it right out of you, but Boss Level gives it back. Expect nothing but a good time, and you’ll be gratified and then some.
If these are the kinds of flicks War Party Films is getting greenlit, then sign me up for more. It’s hardly the last time we’ll see Grillo over the next 12 months, either.
Grillo has eight films getting released in 2021, including Once Upon a Time in Staten Island that partners him with Watts again and Cop Shop, with Carnahan directing, and Gerard Butler and Toby Huss on board.
Let the good times roll!
Boss Level premieres on Hulu on Friday, March 5.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.
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