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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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Film Fridays: "Boss Level"

<p><em>Graphic by Carissa Gurgul</em></p>

Graphic by Carissa Gurgul

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

“Boss Level” is a film that has flown under the radar these past few weeks. There was little advertising for it, and it quietly appeared on Hulu in early March.

Its lack of publicity is a shame because “Boss Level” is a hidden gem that stands out in the time-loop genre. Yes, you read that right — another time-loop movie.

The time-loop genre consists of a main character (or group of characters) who must relive the same span of time repeatedly, with some hope of breaking out of the cycle. Well-known films in the genre include “Groundhog Day,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Source Code.”

After seeing the time-loop film, “Palm Springs,” I thought I was done with the genre. “Palm Springs” was one of the best films I saw in 2020, and I could not imagine any film coming close to capturing the fresh take it had on the genre. The film took the cliches of the genre -- such as performing grandiose actions and living each day as if it were their last --and flipped them on their heads while incorporating comedy, drama and romance all wrapped up in a science fiction plot.

Although “Boss Level” is nowhere near as good as “Palm Springs,” which featured some of the best romantic chemistry between two leads that I have seen in awhile and had me on the edge of my seat throughout, it is a solid effort in the genre and much better than films like “Happy Death Day” or “Project Almanac.” 

“Boss Level” follows Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), a retired special forces soldier who has to relive the same day repeatedly while a group of people is out to kill him. In the meantime, he attempts to rekindle a bond with his son while on the run. 

The premise is straightforward, yet the film is creative in the ways it displays Pulver going through each day.

For example, throughout the film, viewers see Pulver’s fighting skills against his attackers become second nature. It was entertaining to see Pulver learn exactly where the attackers would be and know exactly which fighting moves to use against them.

While the film does get repetitive, which is expected for the genre, I was surprised at how invested I was. It has a runtime of 100 minutes, which I thought was the perfect length.

The action scenes kept me interested in the film, which is much needed for a plot that includes the main character undergoing the same process repeatedly. 

With that being said, the action is both well choreographed and engaging. All the credit has to go toward director Joe Carnahan, who has proven himself as a strong director for action movies with films like “The Grey” and “Narc” under his belt.

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Though the action scenes in “Boss Level '' are commendable, ultimately it still is not a perfect film; yet its charm is that it does not try to be. It is so self-aware that it finds comedy in the absurdity of its premise, which I appreciated. For example, Pulver narrates the film and constantly reminds the audience that what he is doing is ridiculous.

Some aspects of the film are convoluted and do not quite add up, such as the motivation of the villains, yet the film is aware that its lure is the action sequences. Plus, Grillo is there to keep the scenes enjoyable in the moments that are not well done. 

Grillo gives one of his best performances in this film, and it is a shame he is not a huge star. At the age of 55, Grillo does most of his own stunts, and some of his work here rivals the stunts Tom Cruise undergoes.

The scenes involving Pulver and his son serve as a breather between the hyperaction scenes, as it gives the film some much-needed heart. Pulver’s son was estranged, and with Pulver realizing he may never come back to reality again, he makes it his goal to reconnect with him.

Ultimately, “Boss Level” is entertaining. If you go into the film expecting deep characterization and a layered script, you will be disappointed. Instead, expect a film that does not take itself too seriously and provides incredible action sequences and fight choreography. 

The film is a solid R, featuring some of the most graphic action I have seen in a while. I would advise being in the right mindset to watch the film, as it certainly pushes the envelope. If you know what you are getting into, you will be pleasantly surprised.

“Boss Level” is streaming on Hulu and I recommend you check it out.

Contact columnist Miles Goldman at miles.goldman@richmond.edu.

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