An action sci-fi Groundhog Day with Frank Grillo and guns? Say no more!
Although many films have replicated the formula of the 1993 Harold Ramis classic (to varying degrees of success), I can’t get enough of them. Boss Level opens with a bang: Grillo wakes up every day to the same assassin trying to murder him with a machete. He explains the premise with exposition, noting that it took “140 times” until it got annoying, having to deal with this first thing in the morning. It’s an explosive start, and Grillo is up to the task.
As an action movie intro, having your hero battle a video game-esque gauntlet of baddies set to Boston’s “Long Time” is a quick sell. As you learn more about the world of Boss Level, so does Grillo’s character. The exposition is a bit much sometimes, especially for plot details and relationship building that doesn’t really matter, but it’s easy enough to burn past it. The video game text for each “attempt” (life) is a nice touch that shows how self-aware Boss Level is, when it really leans into its strengths.
But that camp focus doesn’t stop a middling and slow middle. As a raw unflappable hero, Grillo is fun to watch. Everyone else though outside of the assassins? That’s debatable beyond Michelle Yeoh, who has a cameo-like appearance. It’s hard to believe they even paid Naomi Watts at all, given how quickly she’s whisked on and off screen! And Will Sasso is such a weird choice as one of the main antagonists, since he doesn’t have much to do or say.
It’s all over the place at times. Grillo laments his life choices, the sci-fi elements toy with apocalyptic prophecies: then we get back to the good stabbing and shooting.It’s a one-track film, not concerned with the details or ancillary elements, despite shoving them in our face constantly.
It does pick back up. And eventually we get the silly montages of Grillo succeeding and failing bit by bit, slowly figuring out how to deal with each threat incrementally. It’s gruesome, it’s funny, and it can be thrilling. The mystery doesn’t matter as much as the journey. Or at least, that’s probably what Boss Level wants you to believe.
With a great premise and a convincing lead, Boss Level isn’t short on action and popcorn entertainment. Given that it somewhat wastes its sci-fi stuffing, a lot of folks probably won’t want to tune in unless they’re really ready for a linear, simplistic viewing experience.