Boss Level – Groundhog Slaughter
Trapped in a time loop that constantly repeats the day of his murder, a former Special Forces agent must unravel the mystery behind his untimely demise. Digital editor Dan Jensen takes a look at an awesome new action flick that just hit Netflix.
LEVEL OF THE BOSS is a sci-fi action film starring Frank Grillo as a special forces soldier caught in a time loop where he has to relive the same day over and over again while trying to figure out why. In the meantime, he learns more about the murder of his ex-wife (Naomi Watts), reconnects with his son and becomes determined to prevent an end of the world.
The plot device of a character forced to relive the same endless day has been done multiple times, but when done right, it can make for a very entertaining story. Movies like groundhog day, Edge of tomorrow and Happy day of the dead all have received critical praise. Boss level is no exception, with a cracking script that gives the viewer a really fun ride. The film never takes itself seriously and features several laughing moments and over-the-top action sequences to keep the viewer engaged for the duration of 100 minutes.
Frank Grillo is perfectly portrayed as Delta Force soldier Roy Pulver, a man who fell into a life of alcohol and bimbos while shirking all responsibility, including the relationship with his son, Joe. Naomi Watts works well with his wife Jemma, a scientist working on a device called Osiris Spindle which is being developed by the evil Clive Ventor (menacingly played by Mel Gibson) at the aptly named Dynow Labs. When Jemma finds out about Ventor’s intentions to abuse the device for power, she realizes his number is on the rise and sets up the machine to send Roy through a time loop and find a way to defeat the bad guys.
What ensues is nothing short of action movie madness as Roy wakes up every morning to the same assassin, followed by an array of bizarre killers all sent to stop him. After reliving the same scenarios hundreds of times, he comes to understand how to defeat every assassin, but not before dying horribly with each attempt. Assassins are a colorful bunch, ranging from a dwarf who likes to blow things up to a British / Chinese martial artist who makes sure everyone knows his name.
But that’s what makes this movie so fun – it plays up the entertainment value as much as possible. The science behind the Time Loop and the Osiris Spindle is touched on, but director Joe Carnahan knows we didn’t come here for a science lesson, so it’s largely brushed aside. The film has huge loopholes in the logic and sometimes loses track of its own timeline (there are times when Joe meets something for the first time but strangely explains through the storytelling that he has already experienced it), but the faults never take away the fun and spectacle.
The film also features an admirable cast of supporting characters with minor roles, including the ever-brilliant Michelle Yeoh as a modern-day warrior Roy hires to train her in sword-wielding. We also have Annabelle Wallis as a one-night stand that we learn plays a deeper role in Roy’s many deaths. But the star has to be Will Sasso as Brett, the right-hand man of Gibson’s Clive. Fans of MADtv Sasso will be remembered for his hilarious comedy work, but as an imposing security chief the cast was surprisingly perfect.
As with any good time-looped story, it’s important for the protagonist to become a better person after reliving the same day and having the chance to improve not only their life, but those around them as well. Boss level achieves this goal well, Roy’s family ties giving him the motivation to want to change things. Interestingly, the film has two different endings – one being more of a direct closure of the story and the other a little more ambiguous. Thankfully, the Netflix version has that latter ending, but if you’re not a fan of a story left open for interpretation, there’s a lot of information out there on the net about the other ending.
Boss level is a highly entertaining action flick featuring colorful characters, a terrific soundtrack, over-the-top violence and holds its place among the best time-loop stories. If you can turn your brain off long enough to ignore its logical flaws, you’ll have a good time.
Boss Level is now streaming on Netflix.
You can follow digital editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @danjensenmovies or check out his YouTube channel, Movie Talk with Dan Jensen.
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