Boss Level is a 2021 science fiction action film following a ex special forces soldier who tries to escape a never-ending time loop that results in his death. The film stars Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts and Michelle Yeoh and is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
There seems to have been an abundance of time loop films released over the past few years, with Palm Springs and The Map of Tiny Perfect Things springing to mind immediately. Generally, time loop-based films follow the same principle of one or two people stuck reliving the same day over and over again, all whilst trying to find love to somehow break the loop. Whilst Boss Level follows a similar concept in some respects, its heavy focus on action and combat makes it exciting and fast paced right from the off.
The film follows Roy Pulver, a retired Delta Force soldier who has been stuck in a time loop for a significant amount of time and has managed to learn the day’s pattern. Most time loop films start off pretty slow as they begin to set the precedent of the film, but Boss Level begins at the start of Roy’s 144th attempt at staying alive. This, coupled with the explosive start to each of Roy’s days (him getting attacked by numerous assassins), make for an entertaining and fast paced start to the film.
Unfortunately, this fast pace soon dwindles out as the film regresses and reflects back on previous attempts of Roy trying to stay alive. This decision to start the film off during his 144th attempt and then look back at previous events does work and for the most part is pretty fun; however, it just slows the film down quite dramatically. The film then fails to ever pick up from where it left off and its slow pace almost make it feel laborious at times.
The premise of the film develops into almost a science fiction detective thriller as the as narrative progresses and as the individual pieces are put together, the film does reinvigorate a bit of that potential which was evident in the opening act. The whole premise does become a little predictable after a little while, however it’s still entertaining to watch play out nevertheless. This, combined with some fairly brutal action sequences dosed throughout the film, are the moments when Boss Level is most enjoyable.
There’s a big focus within the film on the science fiction aspect of the time loop and its initial cause. There’s surprisingly a lot more depth to the science than I was expecting, but it didn’t take long for it to become far too overcomplicated, particularly when it attempted to tie in Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris into the mix. With time loop films, I’m of the thinking that if the root cause and origin of the time loop is NOT absolutely perfect, then the film should simply gloss over it, for the sake of the audience. Sadly however, Boss Level tries far too hard to incorporate it into the narrative and it generally feels a bit out of place as a result.
Frank Grillo stars as lead character Roy and having only really seen him previously in the Captain America films, I was pleasantly surprised with his performance in Boss Level. He brought a combination of charisma and rebelliousness to his character which made him a likeable protagonist from the offset. Frank Grillo also narrates the majority of the film from Roy’s perspective and this really does help to bring his character to life that little bit more – despite the fact it does become a little annoying as the film progresses!
The ensemble supporting cast are severely underutilised, but nevertheless, there’s a good array of actors within the film. Naomi Watts plays Jemma, Roy’s estranged wife, and as always, her performance and character are faultless. There are glimmers of a potentially awesome villain with Mel Gibson’s character, particularly from his monologue early in the film, but his character never gets enough screen time to capitalise on this. Ken Jeong and Michelle Yeoh also star but their roles are very small in the scheme of things.
Arguably the most disappointing part to Boss Level is its anticlimactic ending. It is an ending which does require you to apply a bit of logic and brainpower, rather than spelling things out for the audience, however this isn’t even the issue for me! After a lengthy build up and the slog of going back and forth in time loops, there is absolutely no build up to the final proceedings of the film! Whilst it was obvious we were in the latter stages of the film, the film just ends so abruptly that I found myself saying “is that it?”. It’s not the worst ending ever, but it certainly didn’t satisfy me after what was a bumpy ride for the majority of the film.
A severely underutilised supporting cast, a vastly overcomplicated science-based focus and erratic pacing issues, Boss Level is a bumpy ride to say the least.
Boss Level is currently available to watch on Prime Video in the UK. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime Video here – https://amzn.to/3g7djMZ (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).