In Cinemas 25 February 2021,Boss Level stars Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, and Michelle Yeoh, plus a face you'll easily recognise behind the bar, comedian, actor, producer, writer, television personality and licensed physician Ken Jeong.
Boss Level is an action drama from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Carnahan (writer-director of Narc, Smokin'Aces and The Grey). Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) has a real problem. He wakes up every morning to be slaughtered by assassins in different ways. He's either shot, blown up, beheaded, or stabbed; then it starts all over again - over and over again for reasons he doesn't understand.
A former Delta Force member Roy needs to figure out why he's stuck in this repeating loop in time and space, how he can save his ex-wife (Naomi Watts as Dr Jemma Wells) and 11 year old son, and what an evil military scientist named Ventor (Mel Gibson) who is his ex-wife's boss, wants with something called The Osiris Spindle. He seems to have become an unwitting part of Ventor's plan to use this powerful machine and must work out how. That's if he can save himself from being killed again.
Of the time-loop genre like Groundhog Day, Before I Fall andHappy Death Day, Grillo plays a character who has deep regrets. He has an ex-wife he's still in love with and a son he doesn't spend enough time with as an absentee husband and father. With each resurrection, Roy discovers if he has enough attempts, he can right the wrongs he's done and redeem himself in the eyes of the people he loves. He also gathers more clues to the terrifying truth.
Anyone who plays video games will understand the phrase Boss Level instantly. It's the ultimate boss, the highest and toughest level of difficulty in a fighting game. Grillo definitely has to jump a lot of hoops to get to the truth. There's grenade-launchers, assault weapons, beheadings, wild twists and turns and other forms of mayhem, and a who's who of supporting actors like Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Michele Yeoh and Ken Jeong. Will Sasso (Canadian-American actor and comedian from The Three Stooges), Selina Lo (British Asian actress with a background in competitive martial arts) and Meadow Williams (The Mask, Apollo 12) also hold down roles as assassins and play a bigger part than Michele Yeoh who is under-utilised in her role as a Sensei.
If it's pure escapism and entertainment you're after, this is the one, with shades of the Kill Bill trilogy running through its veins. A kick-ass action thriller peppered with over-the-top kills, hand-to-hand combat, car chases, humour, heart, and a strong dash of action coolness, with Grillo part of the film's unique charm. Never generally the star, Grillo does have a lot of experience with action films. It's not difficult to fathom with a body in tip-top shape. He's also very recognisable and has a solid body of work in a decade and a half of acting in TV dramas and films like Minority Report, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame to name a few.
Grillo nails it as he plays Pulver with a mixture of befuddled-ness and a little ineptitude. Yet, effortlessly he has that heroism and a toughness, striking a hard combination of equal parts action, comedy, black comedy and drama that he does so beautifully. Gibson is comfortable in his role as the evil but talkative and charming Col. Ventor whose organisation is building the Osiris Spindle that has the power to unmake time and space. You look at his face and it exudes 40 years of cinema experience. He's equally humanist and malevolent and he is still enrapturing as a character who is self-absorbed and loves the sound of his own voice.
Not her usual kind of film, Watts role in this wild testosterone ride of mayhem requires her to establish herself as a professional, to play Dr Jemma Wells, and be expressive, emotional and emotive. She has one of those great, classic faces of cinema for whom it seems effortless to express the different aspects of her character like fear, apprehension, regret and so on, with very little effort. One of the most successful actresses from the east, Michelle Yeoh doesn't quite nail it as the Sensei swordmaster. Albeit she doesn't get the chance to show the full range of her potential, the choreography in those master and little grasshopper moments just don't seem masterful and believable enough compared to all the action that was happening around it throughout the film. Still, this movie has a lot of entertainment to appreciate and be engaged in with a dash of those great '80s action thrillers, and very much a more violent Groundhog Day.