November 19, 2021 – Boss Level is a time-loop movie like “Edge of Tomorrow” in which the hero, Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) finds himself living the same day over and over again, dying each time at the hands of numerous unorthodox assassins.
Pulver, an elite soldier, fights his way out numerous battles every day, which start as soon as he wakes up. He has no idea why this is happening, but after repeating this experience many times, he finally figures out what is going on and why. He discovers that he has to solve the puzzle of his repeating days, or the world will end.
It takes Pulver a long time to figure things out because he has very few clues to work with, and he's not all that bright when it comes to solving mysteries. Along the way, Pulver reconnects with his son, Joe (played by Grillo's real son, Rio Grillo). Joe is unaware that Pulver is his father. Even though Pulver is able to spend only a few minutes with his son each day, he begins to realize what he has missed not being a part of Joe's life.
Pulver also has a brief meeting with his ex-wife, Jemma Wells (Naomi Watts of “Allegiant”) just prior to the time bounce, and she gives him some unnecessarily cryptic hints about what is going on. Jemma works at a top secret laboratory in which she is helping to develop a powerful machine called the Osiris Spindle. Jemma tells Pulver that if the machine is used improperly it could destroy the world.
In the movie, Pulver is killed, again and again, but he wakes up again the same morning to start the day again. Sometimes he just lets the assassins kill him in bed. Sometimes he kills himself. This would seem to be pretty grim stuff, but this film has quite a few comic overtones during many fight sequences. Pulver has a casual, sarcastic attitude towards this repetitive existence which colors all the action. Pulver is the only person who knows the day is repeating and the only one who remembers what happened during the previous repeats.
As you might expect, this movie's plot is somewhat repetitive, which is a problem with time loop movies like “12:01,” but there is enough variety and enough mystery to keep the viewer involved in the story. There is also a good performance by Grillo, whose longing to escape his trap and reconnect with his estranged family provides a strong anchor for the plot. The title of the film refers to video games, but video games are only a very small part of the story.
It must be nice for Grillo to be playing the hero in this movie after being best known as the villain, Brock Rumlo, agent of Hydra, in three very popular Marvel films. I did see a bit of Rumlo's sardonic humor in Pulver. The film's biggest star, Mel Gibson (“We Were Soldiers”) is the villain behind all the many assassins, Colonel Clive Ventor. Also in the film is Malaysian film star Michelle Yeoh (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”) playing Dai Feng, who trains Pulver in martial arts.
There is plenty of action in this film, no small amount of humor, and a compelling story about love and redemption. The acting is solid and the main characters are compelling. This film rates a B.
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