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‘Boss Level’ Review: Game Never Over | Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘Boss Level’ Review: Game Never Over

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Frank Grillo’s character in “Boss Level” is named Roy Pulver, which must be short for Pulverize because that’s what he does to the assassins out to destroy him. No matter what they try — machete, grenade, Chinese sword, the tight-end Rob Gronkowski machine-gunning from a helicopter — Roy has a parade. Up until he doesn’t and gets killed, only to wake up back in his bed, ready to repeat the exact same ordeal and die another day.

Directed by the B-movie expert Joe Carnahan (“The Grey), the lighthearted “Boss Level” is the latest iteration of the popular time-loop scenario, spelling out the video-game concept — repeat an action until you get good enough to move on — that has always fed this subgenre.

Roy has an unlimited number of lives, which allows him to accumulate the experience necessary to overcome each obstacle. He’s a fast learner, too, becoming a sword master in just a few lessons; it probably helps that his instructor is no less than Michelle Yeoh. Roy eventually discovers that the plot against him involves a supersecret device overseen by his ex, Jemma (Naomi Watts, keeping an impeccable straight face amid the ambient silliness), and that her boss, Mel Gibson’s Col. Ventor, is up to no good — a big clue is that he’s named Col. Ventor.

Roy grows as a killer over the course of the movie, which involves an increasingly tedious amount of repetitive violence played for laughs — he’s like Wile E. Coyote, brushing himself off after falling off a cliff or being blown up.

As in most other time-loop iterations, Roy also grows as a person. But still a fun one with great hair! When he takes a break from battling his pursuers, he enjoys demolishing arcade-game baddies with his son, Joe (Grillo’s own son Rio). The lessons take longer to sink in when emotions are involved, but Roy eventually gets it. We knew he would, because we too have been there before.

Boss Level
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. Watch on Hulu.


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