Released: 25th February
Seen: 7th July
It’s official, Time Loop movies are having a major resurgence and I am so happy that they are. First there was the horror film Happy Death Day, a film I still wish I had seen in time to put in my best of list for 2017 , then recently we had the Rom com twofer of Palm Springs and The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things which were both just very charming and now I get to talk/gush about Boss Level which is just more proof of what fun can be had with this very simple concept when it’s done right.
Boss Level follows Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) who is having a very bad day… in fact, he’s having the same very bad day several times in a row. It starts when he wakes up to a machete wielding maniac trying to cut off his head and just gets more violent and extreme from there. Day after day Roy finds himself having to deal with various cartoonish assassins trying to kill him for reasons he doesn’t quite understand but will soon learn involve his ex-wife Jemma (Naomi Watts), her evil employer Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson) and a conspiracy to take over the world by changing its history.
Boss Level may as well start with Frank Grillo turning to camera and saying “Sit down, shut up, let’s have some fun” because the tone it sets from the beginning is absolute over the top insanity and it revels in every single second of it. It’s a tone that almost defies you to try and take anything seriously, Boss Level dares you to question its logic because SPOILERS its logic is “This looks like fun, let’s do this” and it then does the fun looking thing with such obscene confidence that you can’t help but beam like a moron when it does it.
Things that might annoy me in other films absolutely delighted me in Boss Level. I’m not a fan of pointlessly repeated dialogue (even in movies about repeating days, there’s a point where it gets annoying), yet I could absolutely sit and watch an hour of one of the assassins, Guan Yin (Selina Lo), saying “I am Guan Yin and Guan Yin has done this” because it is so cheesy that I just adore it. I often find narrators to just be kinda bad, but Grillo puts so much heart into his narration that it goes from hilarious to badass to tearing your heart out and making you cry.
Oh yeah, the silly movie about the badass who does sword fights, repeats days and keeps being shot in the head also has a heart that’s so big that you’d wear it heard the Whos down in Whoville singing Christmas carols at some point because it’s three times larger than it should be considering the content. There are several moments, especially around the end of Boss Level, where they just hammer you with some powerful emotional beats that revolve around Roy and his son Joe (Rio Grillo). Oh, yeah, they got Frank’s real kid to play his characters kid and oh my god you can so tell because the scenes with Roy and Joe feel so real and adorable that it makes other scenes beyond heart breaking.
Indeed, Boss Level really is a showcase for Frank Grillo, who really doesn’t need a showcase at this point because everyone knows how damn talented he is. He gives a performance that is nothing short of perfection, somehow anchoring this absolute batshit crazy film in a way that makes you buy every second. I buy that this guy could somehow do everything he does in Boss Level, there’s never a moment where I went “Oh come on!” because they knew the limits of the character and worked within them in a way that’s certainly heightened, but I bought it.
You wanna know my one complaint? Mel Gibson is in Boss Level and I still have problems with how easily Hollywood forgave him for his lengthy history of abuse, anti-semitism and racism. This isn’t to say he’s bad in Boss Level, indeed he’s weirdly perfectly cast as a verbose villain with delusions of grandeur but he’s still just hard for me personally to look at because I see his face and I start hearing the recordings of the old drunken arrest tape… just saying, I know some people will never forgive him for that (and that’s totally their right) and it is jarring to see him.
Even with that issue, Boss Level is still a cartoonishly fun action-filled thrill ride that grabs hold of you as tight as it can before it goes off and just has as much fun as humanly possible. No fear, no shame, no restraint needed. It’s beyond balls-to-the-wall, its balls went right through the damn wall and it’s proud of it. An absolute rip roaring way to spend your time.