Movie Review: Boss Level (2020)

Directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces) and released in 2021, Boss Level is a sci-fi action film. Retired special forces soldier, Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) awakens to find himself in a time loop, hunted by various assassins, which resets whenever he is killed. His former partner, Jemma (Naomi Watts) may know what is happening, as she works at a clandestine laboratory under the rule of Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson).

+ both Grillo and Gibson were fantastic in their roles. I never considered Grillo to be much for comedic timing, but he impressed me in that regard. Gibson was menacing and dangerous, and it made me wish he was Joel in the upcoming The Last of Us series. Selina Lo (the assassin Guan Yin) and Will Sasso (Ventor’s head of security, Brett) were standouts among the secondary cast, but frankly they were the only ones given much to work with
+ overall, the action was well choreographed and exciting. Pulver’s disinterest in the constant fight for his life shines through in Grill’s facial expressions (I was reminded of that awesome scene in Upgrade where Logan Marshall-Green’s character lets the AI take over his movements). The loops where Pulver’s plans go wrong are often the most enjoyable. The action will remind you of Smokin’ Aces, another by director Carnahan
+ I thought the film was wrapping up about twenty minutes before it did, before a last minute plot point spruced things up. It was a welcome change of pace from the same sort of stuff throughout

– I’m not entirely sure what the “Boss Level” name of the film is meant to imply. From the name, I expected some more Scott Pilgrim-style video references or on-screen graphics, but disappointingly, Pulver explicitly states his dislike for video games in the film
– Michelle Yeoh is given a starring role in the trailers, but frankly her role as Dai Feng was a glorified cameo at best. I wasn’t expecting a full team up or buddy-cop movie, but I think her screen time totalled a few minutes at best

> there are a surprising number of celebrity cameos in this; keep an eye out for “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans of UFC fame, as well as Rob Gronkowski of the NFL
> I don’t usually do this, but I’m a sucker for time-related shenanigans in media. So for those interested, have a look for Run Lola Run, ARQ, Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live. Die. Repeat.), Triangle or Supernatural‘s ‘Mystery Spot’ episode for similar themes, as well as the obvious Groundhog Day

Should you see this film: Yes, this was worth at least one watch. Frank Grillo was a surprisingly relatable lead who is more than just his muscles and grimaces, but the action and black comedy will keep you on the edge of your seat.


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