Movie Review: ‘Boss Level’ is a game winner

Bill Gordon, Contributor

A movie poster for Hulu’s “Boss Level”. Photo via Hulu

As we search for normalcy to get us through winter and the remainder of this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming services have become a major part of many people’s lives.

Many studios are moving forward with “theatrical” releases at home as everyone adapts.
In an effort to contribute to that normalcy, Valley Sentinel will endeavor to include reviews of trending, classic or otherwise interesting pieces of art or media to inspire. Feel free to send along your contributions.

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Do you ever wish you could re-do a day? Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), an off -duty special forces operator stuck in a 24-hour time-loop definitely does because he gets killed every day. “Boss Level” (directed by Joe Carnahan, 2021) is non-stop action from start to finish. Along the way, Roy discovers what his real mission is, and we tag along for the ride. Naomi Watts stars as Jemma Wells, a scientist and Roy’s former wife, and Mel Gibson as Colonel Clive Ventor, the owner of the company Jemma works for.

“Boss Level” joins “Palm Springs” (Max Barbakow, 2020) and “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” (Ian Samuels, 2021) as the third time-loop movie released in the past nine months. These three films can be grouped with “Groundhog Day” (the 24-hour time-loop standard bearer) as they all involve comedy, romance, and personal growth. But “Boss Level” is different than the others as its narrative is built more around action than romance.

This movie is all Frank Grillo. The film is heavily (and expertly) narrated by his Roy Pulver character and he appears in virtually every scene. Michelle Yeoh stars as Dai Feng, a world class Chinese swordmaster who proves to be an important ally for Roy.

A central theme of the film is “80s vintage side-scroller video games.” Whenever Roy is killed and wakes up to try again, green text appears onscreen akin to an 80s video game and displays the attempt number. Roy underscores this when describes his experience saying, “It’s like being in a video game in a level you can’t beat.” While “Boss Level” is not like Ready Player One or Tron where the story takes place inside a video game, the plot is structured like a video game where the player needs to eliminate a Boss (a powerful computer-created enemy) in order to win the game. And just like a video game might have a variety of computer-generated opponents, “Boss Level” includes an eclectic group of killers, including the memorable Guan Yin (Selina Lo) as the confident and skilled swordfighter, and football star Ron Gronkowski as a helicopter gunner that wreaks havoc on Roy’s leased apartment.

If you are like me and enjoy music from the 70s and 80s, you are in for a treat with this film’s soundtrack, which includes tunes from Boston, Badfinger, and Lynyrd Sknyrd and ties into the 80s video game theme. The sound and video effects in this movie are a feast for the senses.

“Groundhog Day” is one of my favorite films, I like its message that there is always another chance to get it right and experience personal growth. Boss Level continues this theme in a very entertaining action thriller.
4/5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Boss Level” is available for viewing on Hulu now.

Viewing information

How to view: Hulu
Release date: 2021
Duration: 100 Minutes
Genre: Action-Thriller, Comedy, Scif
Rating: Unrated