Boss Level (MA) - 101 minutes
Ex-military man Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo) is caught in a time warp that, try as he does, he can’t get out of.
Every day – hundreds of times over – is ground hog day and brings with it the same routine.
He gets killed – shot, knifed, beheaded or blown up – by one or a posse of ruthless assassins.
Why? Roy doesn’t know.
What we know is that he is ex special forces and he has revelled in that lifestyle.
He chose the job over his family – a former wife, Emma Wells (Naomi Watts), and a now 11-year-old son Joe (Rio Grillo), who doesn’t know Roy is his father, although Emma speaks kindly of Roy.
Now he is alone. He drinks heavily and has no shortage of female company.
But Roy has his regrets. He misses his ex and wants to know his son.
One day, out of the blue, Emma contacts him and offers him a top-secret job at the laboratory where she works.
For the past five years, she has been engaged tirelessly on a project akin to the Large Hadron Collider, which plays with space and time.
Her every move is tracked.
Her boss, Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson), is the ruthless, power-hungry head of a corporation and she is increasingly uncomfortable with what he is trying to achieve.
His heavy-set security chief, Brett (Will Sasso), is also intimidating.
Before Emma is “disposed of”, she provides Roy with a clue to the mystery he is an integral part of.
Heavy on thrills, I enjoyed Boss Level.
I appreciated Frank Grillo in the lead role, as the gruff, he-man who takes executions in his stride and Gibson as the manipulative, string puller with a gravelly voice and menacing facial expression.
I also liked Rio Grillo as the empathetic son who Roy gets to know.
Watts does what is asked of her as the scientist who has uncovered a nefarious plot and still has strong feelings for Roy, who she recognises as the key to saving the world.
Among the killers, Selina Lo stands out as the Chinese sword master with a deft touch, Guan Yin, who takes pride in her work.
The plot unfolds in drip feed fashion, with new snippets thrown in to add to Roy’s and our understanding of what has gone down.
Because that means the trajectory of each repeated day is slightly different, even if the result is the same, that maintains the interest factor.
Above all, I commend the irreverence in the script, even if there is a predictability about the conclusion.
Director Joe Carnahan (The Grey) rewrote a screenplay originally called Continue by brothers Chris and Eddie Borey.
I found Boss Level far more entertaining than I had expected to. The violent actioner hits the mark.
Rated MA, it scores a 7 out of 10.