Movie Review: Boss Level
Boss Level is about former special forces soldier, Roy, who is stuck in an endless time loop. Though, the trick is, there are assassins after him and he has no idea why. So, Roy has to figure out how to get out of the time loop, where the assassins are coming from, and why he's being targeted. The film stars Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts, Will Sasso, Annabelle Wallis, Sheaun McKinney, Selina Lo, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Meadow Williams, Mathilde Ollivier, Rio Grillo, Arminda Lopez, and Mel Gibson. The film is directed by Joe Carnahan and has a story by Chris and Eddie Borey and a screenplay by Chris and Eddie Borey and Joe Carnahan. The film is streaming exclusively on Hulu.
I really enjoy time travel as a trope. I like time loops as a sub trope of time travel. I like the silliness inherent in the conceit, which has a natural humor when someone gets the hang of all the timing in their small bubble and can freak out the stuck people. Boss Level is not a version of this I like. I knew I wasn't on board for this version of the time loop after Roy, the man in the loop, describes the shout one of his victims gives as a "date rape scream."
There are a few things to like about this movie. Though, the action is exciting the first time through of course. They thankfully use jump cuts as a short hand to get us to a new story point while showing slightly alternate takes. Yet, there is so much that I genuinely disliked that I can't even do my normal bright side take on the film.
I'll start with the annoying voice over narration. The voice over was at alternate times in the present and future without a differentiation. It's just as quippy as the dialogue and at some points it moves the story along, but it's doing double duty. It's spoon feeding us information that's obviously playing out in front of our eyes without anything clever or new to add.
The same can be said of all the dialogue and Frank Grillo's performance in general. Look, Grillo is good as a heavy or a streetwise cop or a soldier, but to make him an action hero just didn't fit very well. He lacks a certain amount of charisma. He's certainly charming, he has the physicality and the handsome mug, but he's a different energy that really doesn't fit with the vibe.
Which is why it's confusing that a supposedly genius intellect like Gemma, played by Naomi Watts, would fall for him. That relationship is mostly done in flashbacks. I could understand that if this had happened before the main action of the film, but it comes in the middle somewhere. Also, these flashbacks are suddenly Roy's real time memory? And he didn't put all this together in the several hundred tries before? And he waits like a couple dozen tries before trying to solve Gemma's disappearance?
Boss Level is so full of plot holes like this I nearly tripped at the reveal of every clue. One of the most confounding ones is how the big bad guys slipped a tracker into Roy's mouth. Did he have the dentist appointment already? Was Brett keeping hygienists on standby? Is there already a whole surveillance apparatus on Roy in order to know which dentist he'd be going to? If so, why didn't they just use the apparatus already in place to keep tabs on him? Why did the hygienist go out drinking with Roy? Was the plant of the tracker farther in the past? What was the point of the scene with the bartender who seemed to know him intimately and strangely encouraged him to take the hygienist home, but then didn't actually know him at all, but then knew his wife when she called the bar?
Don't watch Boss Level. The runtime states an hour and thirty-four minutes, but it will feel like months. Find some other, much better time loop movies to occupy your time because Boss Level is an absolute waste of it.