Boss Level (2021)
May 24, 2021 10:36 AM - Subscribe

A retired Special Forces officer is trapped in a never-ending time loop on the day of his death.
posted by Kyol (16 comments total)
If Army of the Dead didn't do it for you, maybe head over to Hulu for this. I enjoyed it, it was snappy and reasonably well done for what it is. It's not Primer-level timeloop nerdery, but it is a fun romp.
posted by Kyol at 10:37 AM on May 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I actually liked this quite a bit. It's lighter, but spiced with just enough grimness. Frank Grillo seems to be a bit of an up and comer.

In particular, I liked how his motivation/ mood changes over the iterations. His changing lines to convince the sword master to teach him was particularly droll.

I often criticize Ken Jeong's artistic choices, but he wasn't awful here.
posted by porpoise at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2021

Is Mel Gibson a major character? That's the only thing keeping me from watching this since I love both Frank Grillo & time-loop movies.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 1:44 PM on May 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Eccccchhhhh yyyyessss and no, not really? I mean, I can understand if that's an immediate veto, but it's not Braveheart or Lethal Weapon level main character, but he isn't just a passing face in a crowd that you can go "Wait, was that Mel Gibson?" either. As a time loop style movie it's like 80% Frank Grillo and maybe 10% his family and the last 10% is everybody else, but that's more than zero percent Mel Gibson.

(Which is sort of a shame, the character he plays could have been pretty much any older grizzled white dude. Hell, it could've been George Clooney and avoided any controversy. He already had the grizzly beard for The Midnight Sky.)
posted by Kyol at 2:07 PM on May 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Very roughly his character is in 14 minutes of a 92 minute movie which is more than I figured, but I guess he does a bunch of monologuing that chews up time.
posted by Kyol at 2:14 PM on May 24, 2021

Gibson was not a/ trying-to-be a sympathetic character. You dislike him? You can easily dislike his character.

I wouldn't let feelings against him keep you from watching this movie. Unlike 'Fatman.' But you should be watching 'Fatman' for Walton Goggins, not Gibson.
posted by porpoise at 2:38 AM on May 25, 2021

I saw this about when it was released, and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. It has a lot more heart than you might expect from a movie about a badass stuck in a timeloop.
posted by graventy at 7:46 AM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I might not have noticed this without the fanfare post, so thanks for that. I enjoyed this a lot - nice to have a time loop story that doesn't spend a lot of time on "oh no! it's a time loop! what will we do?! what are the rules?" and instead the movie knows the tropes and knows that the audience also knows the tropes.

Grillo does well with the comedy part of action/comedy - I think I'd only seen him as Rumlow in the MCU films before this so I knew he could do a fight scene. Michelle Yeoh was bonus fun but I think he must've been a very quick study based on the loop count we saw.

And I think the movie ended in exactly the right place.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:55 AM on May 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm a sucker for all time loop movies and this was a fun take on it. It really did feel like a video game -- learning the rules, exploring the environment, trying different tactics, advancing accordingly.

Kyol mentioned the recent Army of the Dead release and it's an apt comparison. This movie was exactly the perfect running time, it never felt like it was getting old, the nihilism worked well because the baddies were ridiculously overstylized like video game baddies -- and also because the protagonist had such a grim sense of humor and a kind of broken-in fluency with the situation he was in.

I could have done without Mel Gibson, but I didn't even realize it was him for the first few scenes, so it felt like half as much Mel Gibson as there actually was.

Oh! Speaking of Army of the Dead, there's been much fanfare about Tig Notaro's absolutely inspired performance, and it's all fully deserved. Her part was added post production after she replaced another actor, and even with the green screen she manages to establish excellent chemistry with the other actors, even though she's never met them in real life. It's astonishing.

I mention this because Naomi Watts is in Boss Level and it's clear she's there in person, but it's such a weirdly disconnected performance from such a compelling and reliable actress that if you made me guess which one was post-production green screen, I'd have guessed Naomi.
posted by mochapickle at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I watched this movie knowing nothing about it a few months ago. To me the whole thing seemed exactly like what some lame anachronistic chauvinist thought was a bunch of "badass" qualities, made by someone who got a bit of money to just make a "badass" action movie and all these little tropes and things he thinks were cool. Like a bad groundhog's day and the main guy is smug offbrand karl urban or something, but not bad enough where it seems self-aware or facetious or satirical in any way. It also, despite having such a videogamey name, couldn't help but make the same tried crack about geeks/nerds/gamers/whatever, even when the character is learning videogames are a good way to connect with his child.

That said, I had a good time even though I thought it was terrible and I've heard from others who did interpret a lot of the stuff as more self-aware than it read to me or that all the lame "Badass" stuff was actually stuff they wanted and thought was non-scare-quotes badass.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:02 PM on May 25, 2021

Oh the macho tough guy running monologue was definitely distracting! Like, a little bit of that can often mean that the speaker is actually quite vulnerable? But the script amped it up so many times over that it felt like it had to be a deliberate choice in service to the video game theme. It got me thinking about old school character selection screens where the main character preens and shows off a bunch, maybe starts into some super hokey trash talk? I fully realize I may be giving the script too much credit here.

And yes, Karl Urban! He would have elevated this so much. I wish they’d spent their Naomi/Mel budget on Karl…
posted by mochapickle at 7:17 PM on May 25, 2021

My main regret was watching this movie alone, it was the kind of movie where very often I was making a "are you seeing this shit" or "oh they really made that Choice" face with no one to make it at or laugh about it with. I think if you're the type to "not shut the fuck up" during movies, as I am, this would be a good movie for talking and laughing through with friends -- but not good enough to re-watch with them so I blew my chance.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:32 PM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

It has a lot more heart than you might expect from a movie about a badass stuck in a timeloop.

That sums it up for me. It’s not on any best-of lists, but it was better than I expected it to be.
posted by Monochrome at 4:16 PM on May 31, 2021

It was ok, pretty much as expected. Except I didn't expect Naomi Watts, its been a rough year I guess. I enjoyed the Guan Yin repeating joke.
posted by biffa at 10:00 AM on August 14, 2021

Just came here to say: there is no way that Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson filmed their scene in his office together. The blocking/framing did so much work to always place them in positions where it was possible for each to be speaking to a body double, while showing their faces simultaneously for a total of zero seconds.

I wonder why?
posted by pjenks at 2:26 PM on October 22, 2022

Things I liked:
a) the gender reversal of the old "the brilliant scientist with hot girlfriend who is nowhere near his intellectual equal" trope. Seriously, I loved watching the gears slowly (oh, so slowly) turn in Pulver's head as he tried to puzzle out what to do next.
b) "That was weird," said the head of security after Pulver fought his way to the top of the building and then shot himself in the head.
c) an ending that was smarter than I thought it would be. Of course we don't know what happened to Pulver. That's the way time is supposed to work.

Things I did not like
a) That Guy getting any screen time at all
b) Michelle Yeoh being criminally underused
posted by Mogur at 6:56 AM on June 8, 2023

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