Boss Level (2021)
Directed by: Joe Carnahan | 100 minutes | action, comedy | Actors: Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Will Sasso, Annabelle Wallis, Sheaun McKinney, Selina Lo, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Meadow Williams, Mathilde Ollivier, Rio Grillo, Armida Lopez, Buster Reeves, Eric Etebari, Quinton ‘Rampage ‘Jackson
Director Joe Carnahan broke through in 2002 with the grim no-budget thriller ‘Narc’ and since then he has been canning non-stop hard (‘The Grey’) or crazy action movies (‘Smokin’ Aces’). With ‘Boss Level’ he has made a film in the latter category. In this nicely exaggerated violent film, Carnahan goes completely over the top and he has made a golden move with the casting of Frank Grillo in the lead role.
In ‘Boss Level’ things are not going too well with Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo). This retired special forces veteran dies only to wake up the next day. Our iron eater is in a time loop. Every day he has to figure out who killed him and why. The ultimate goal is to stop the killer before he kills Roy. By killing the killer, Roy can “live on” again.
The first fifteen minutes of ‘Boss Level’ immediately sets the tone. The energy with which Carnahan opens his film is very contagious. It is nice and clumsy and exaggerated and therefore very enjoyable. Grillo clearly has a lot of fun and is comfortable with it. This role is made for him and hopefully a number of sequels will follow and we will see Roy Pulver in action more often. After the first fifteen minutes, Carnahan opts for a bit more depth and wants to deepen his characters. Understandable, but a pity. The tempo goes off immediately and the wait for the next crazy action scene therefore takes (too) long.
Fortunately, Grillo’s humor and casual play make up for a lot. It’s also nice to see Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts again. Unfortunately, they don’t get enough to do. Boss Level is at its best when it’s popping and fighting. Unfortunately, the balance is lost when Carnahan suddenly takes a quasi-dramatic direction and you have to wait for the next outburst of violence. ‘Boss Level’ is a fun movie, but it could have been great if the director chose a more straightforward path. Shooting more would have been more fun in this case.