Action/sci-fi time-loop tale is fun but excessively violent.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Boss Level is an action/sci-fi movie about Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), who's stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day as he tries to survive relentless killers, rescue his wife and son, and save the world. The violence is gleefully outrageous, graphic, and excessive, with lots of guns and shooting, characters being shot and killed (including by self-inflicted gunshots, with the knowledge that it's not permanent), high-powered weapons, swords, blades, beheadings, bloody wounds, explosions, car chases/crashes, an arrow through a chest, and more. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k," plus "motherf----r," "s--t," "son of a bitch," and more. Roy picks up a woman in a bar, and they flirt and kiss before he lifts her up and carries her to bed. He also drinks a lot and gets drunk in one sequence. Cigar smoking is also seen. The movie stumbles a bit over its own ideas at the end, but it's exhilarating, clever, and even touching.
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My review of Boss Level
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What's the Story?
In BOSS LEVEL, former special forces officer Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) is stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. From the moment he wakes up, he's fighting for his life, battling a group of killers who wield high-powered assault rifles, swords, machetes, etc. They're relentless, and they always seem to know where he is. He's never had a moment to think, and he has never survived past 12:47 p.m. Suddenly, he remembers a clue that his estranged wife Jemma (Naomi Watts) -- who works in a top-secret capacity as a scientist -- gave him the day before. He starts to discover more clues about his situation and finds ways to use time to his advantage. Now he must navigate this complex day, stop the army of killers, rescue Jemma and his son, finally face the dangerous Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson), and then prevent the end of the world.
Is It Any Good?
Yes, it's another time-loop movie, but this cheerfully relentless action flick comes out fighting and keeps up the pace, with pauses for a few clever ideas and some genuinely touching moments. Directed by Joe Carnahan, Boss Level proves once again that you can borrow the Groundhog Day idea and, like Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, and Palm Springs, still add something new to it. In keeping poor Roy off-balance for the first chunk of the movie, the movie establishes a careening momentum that's positively energizing. Roy gets more sympathetic as we realize that, after some 140 days, he's given up; his main goal is to make it to the bar and drink until he's killed.
But hope comes in many forms. Roy running into his son (played by Grillo's real-life son, Rio), discovering the connection to Jemma, taking sword-fighting lessons, finding a tracking device, and using trial-and-error to learn and adapt all become touching, exhilarating checkpoints. Dreamed up by Chris and Eddie Borey, the story of Boss Level is thick and complex, with many events happening in many places, but Carnahan -- who's at his career best here -- keeps everything nicely balanced and beautifully paced. The main flaw is that there's so much going on that the ending ends up feeling a little unfinished. But Grillo, who finally has a solid breakout role here, gives a final little wink that makes it all seem OK.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Boss Level's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it thrilling or shocking? What's the difference? Did any of it feel gratuitous? Could the story have been told without it?
How is drinking depicted? Why does Roy drink in this situation? Is it glamorized? Are there any consequences? Why does that matter?
What's the appeal of time-loop movies? How does this one compare to others you've seen?
What do you think you would do if you were stuck in a time loop?
Does the movie glamorize video games or video game violence? Why, or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: March 5, 2021
- Cast: Mel Gibson, Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts
- Director: Joe Carnahan
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: August 28, 2022
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