Trapped in a time loop that constantly repeats the day of his murder, a former special forces agent must unlock the mystery behind his untimely demise. Digital editor Dan Jensen takes a look at a great new action film that has just hit Netflix.
BOSS LEVEL is a sci-fi action film starring Frank Grillo as a special forces soldier caught in a time loop where he must relive the same day over and over while trying to figure out why. In the meantime, he learns more about the murder of his estranged wife (Naomi Watts), rekindles a bond with his son and becomes determined to prevent the end of the world.
The plot device of a character being forced to relive the same day endlessly has been done many times, but when it’s done well it can make for a very entertaining story. Films like Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day all received critical praise. Boss Level is no exception, featuring a cracking script that gives the viewer a really fun ride. The film never takes itself seriously and features several laugh-out-loud moments and some over-the-top action sequences to keep the viewer engaged through the entire 100-minute run time.
Frank Grillo is perfectly cast as Delta Force soldier Roy Pulver, a man who has fallen into a life of booze and bimbos while shunning responsibility, including the relationship with his son, Joe. Naomi Watts works well as his wife Jemma, a scientist working on a device called the Osiris Spindle which is being developed by the evil Clive Ventor (played menacingly by Mel Gibson) at the aptly named Dynow Labs. When Jemma discovers Ventor’s intentions to misuse the device to gain power, she realises her number is up and configures the machine to send Roy through a time loop and work out a way to defeat the bad guys.
What ensues is nothing short of action movie craziness as Roy wakes up every morning to the same assassin, followed by an array of bizarre killers all sent out to stop him. After reliving the same scenarios hundreds of times, he eventually figures out how to defeat each assassin but not before dying horribly in each attempt. The assassins are a colourful bunch, ranging from a dwarf who loves to blow things up to a British/Chinese martial artist who makes sure everyone knows her name.
But therein lies what makes this movie so much fun — it plays up the entertainment value as much as possible. The science behind the time loop and the Osiris Spindle is touched upon, but director Joe Carnahan knows we didn’t come here for a science lesson so it’s largely brushed over. The film has huge gaps in logic and at times loses track of its own chronology (there are moments where Joe encounters something for the first time but oddly explains through narration that he’s been through it before), but the flaws never detract from the enjoyment and spectacle.
The film also features an admirable cast of side characters with minor roles, including the always brilliant Michelle Yeoh as a modern-day warrior who Roy enlists to train him in swordplay. We also have Annabelle Wallis as a one-night stand who we learn plays a deeper role in Roy’s numerous deaths. But the standout has to be Will Sasso as Brett, the right-hand man to Gibson’s Clive. Fans of MADtv will remember Sasso for his hilarious comedy work, but in the role of an imposing head of security, the casting was surprisingly perfect.
As with every good time-loop story, it's important for the protagonist to become a better person after reliving the same day and being given the chance to improve not only their life but those around them. Boss Level achieves this goal nicely, with Roy’s family connection giving him the motivation to want to change things. Interestingly, the film has two different endings — one being more of a straightforward closure to the story and one being a little more ambiguous. Fortunately, the Netflix version has the latter ending, but if you’re not a fan of a story being left open to interpretation, there’s plenty of information on the ‘net about the other ending.
Boss Level is a thoroughly entertaining action movie featuring colourful characters, a terrific soundtrack, over-the-top violence and holds its place among the better time-loop stories. If you can switch your brain off long enough to overlook its gaps in logic, you’re in for a great time.
Boss Level is now streaming on Netflix.
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