Boss Level, directed by Joe Carnahan, uses a video game framework to capture a fun, action-packed storyline. The film follows ex-military operative Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) who re-lives the same day, but progresses further each time to unravel a plot that could annihilate the planet.
In the same vein as Groundhog Day, mixed with Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code, the film spruces up the time-loop premise with its video game affectation, as well as the levity of an over-the-top action genre. The film abandons its video-game conceit in favour of a more science-fiction explanation for the time-loop phenomenon. This veers the plot in a more self-serious direction that was perhaps unnecessary, especially with the myriad angles the film could have utilised with video games.
With numerous explosions and death sequences, the special effects and graphics are largely decent, but at times look so cheap, they appear detached completely from the scene. Nevertheless, the plot is well-constructed enough to effectively explores all possible avenues of the world, with the same day having distinctly different outcomes based on what Roy has learnt. Even though the film returns to the same settings, the pulsating rhythm never feels repetitious.
The film lends itself to a more a comical approach than any sentimental value. Roy navigates his survival through sarcastic wit, particularly toward the assassins that prevent his progress. However, Roy’s motivation to survive to re-unite with his partner Jemma and keep her alive feels under-developed and offers little substance to his actions. Having said that, Roy is yearning to build a relationship with his estranged son which offers surprisingly poignant moments, but is left very late in the film to explore sufficiently.
Roy’s voiceover narration is smoothly integrated into the action to establish linearity to a disjointed film. Although this creates some clunky exposition early on, it also reveals Roy’s observations of what is happening around him. This effectively develops his own personality that may not be otherwise possible to explore in such an action-packed film.
Boss Level is bombastic fun. Its witty humour and well-choreographed fight scenes make it an enjoyable experience, even if the plot and characters lack much feeling.
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Patrick Scott is a recent graduate from Monash University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications. He is a freelance film reviewer based in Melbourne, and contributor to The Blurb.