With a title like Boss Level, you would be forgiven for not expecting much. There has been a rather sizeable number of “time loop” movies that have come out recently, and the vast majority have been highly watchable (Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day). And yet somehow, Boss Level manages to set itself apart from its contemporaries and provides a surprising enjoyable movie watching experience.
Starring Frank Grillo and Mel Gibson, Boss Level is an action-comedy directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, The A-Team) and tells the story of Roy, a former Delta Force soldier who has recently returned home and wishes to rekindle his failed relationship with Jemma (Naomi Watts), a scientist working on a top-secret project being headed by another former military man, Colonel Ventor (Gibson). Roy ends up inside a time loop, working every day to figure out why he was put there and how to stop it.
Frank Grillo is excellent in the lead role. He manages to be charming and funny throughout, while still being able to show some dramatic range, especially in the scenes with Roy and Jemma’s son, Joe (Played by Rio Grillo, Frank’s son). And in all honesty, the entire cast works excellently. The supporting cast includes the likes of Will Sasso, Ken Jeong, and even Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a very small role. Part of what makes everyone work as well as they do is that most of them are given their own chance to shine. Sasso plays a largely serious character, unusual for him, but in the moments when he is asked to be the funny man people know and love, he delivers. Michelle Yeoh also appears in a limited role and is also excellent when given her limited screen time.
Part of what makes Boss Level work as well as it does is the way it takes inspiration from previous movies while still finding its own footing. The movie recognizes that everyone knows how “time loop” movies work now, so instead of showing the setup and Roy going through the realization he is stuck, the film jumps right into it, starting on day 140 of his ordeal, with Grillo providing voice over explaining how little he knows about the situation he finds himself in. And that is another thing, expect a lot of voice over throughout the movie. Roy’s inner dialogue is present throughout, but it works within the context of the story, as he tries to solve his way out of the hellish day he finds himself stuck in.
In a movie that bills itself as comedy, the humour is obviously important. And in Boss Level, it works almost entirely. It is a good sign when you can walk away from a film like this and not think of any jokes that really bombed throughout the runtime. There were a few that overstayed their welcome a bit too long, but nothing bad enough to truly bring you out of the experience. As well, it knows exactly what it is. It does not pretend to be high art; this is very much a popcorn movie if one ever existed.
Boss Level is a fun way to turn you mind off for just under 2 hours and enjoy an action-comedy that you do not need to think about too much to understand. The characters are entertaining, the story serves its purpose, and the jokes land most of the time. Really, there is not much more you can ask for in the sort of movie. It knows what it is and does not try to be anything it is not. Frank Grillo impresses with his charm and dry delivery, and this should be a fun watch for general audiences (if you do not mind a bit of violence, that is).