Boss Level Review
By Hervé St-Louis
April 25, 2021 - 10:02
Studios: Highland Film Group (HFG), WarParty Films, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films), Diamond Film Productions, Ingenious Media
Writer(s): Chris Borey, Eddie Borey, Joe Carnahan
Starring: Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Annabelle Wallis, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Produced by: Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Date: April 23, 2021
Distributors: VVS Films
Boss Level has been in production hell since 2012 and was originally supposed to be produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Along the way, many other players got in the way, and the release of the film, completed in 2018 was delayed in 2019, offered to a limited screening, until finally Hulu picked up the rights to the distribution in the United States. Rights were negotiated per territory with different distributors. In Canada, Boss Level was distributed by VVS Films which released the film on Amazon Prime, YouTube and others on March 9th, matching Hulu’s March 5th release date. However, in Canada, the Blu-Ray and DVD versions of the film were released on April 23rd to retail stores across Canada. The distribution of this film overseas is also localized. It is rare, in a Canadian context that a major film release does not exactly match its American counterpart and that the home video discs are offered ahead of the US release.
Thus, my review focuses on the Canadian Blu-Ray version of this film whose ending differs from the US version seen on Hulu. It appears that many home video viewers elsewhere, also have the Canadian version of this film which is 20 minutes longer and with alternative ending. This version, incidentally, is the original cut of the film, offering more background on Pulver’s wife, and a bar chat between Pulver and a barmaid. Unfortunately, the Blu-Ray does not have many extras and do not offer the alternative American ending.
This film is fun and entertaining. Do not expect anything deep. It’s just comedic action by Frank Grillo who should probably become a A-star action hero after this film. He’s like a better version Vin Diesel and a more believable version of Keanu Reeves’s John Wick with a dash of Jason Statham. The time loop movie has now become a genre and Boss Level director Joe Carnahan uses that to its advantage to depict something that would have been gruesome or boring in other films. It could have been as bad as the 2012 Total Recall update. At the same time, this film is not as intellectually driven as 12 Monkeys and that’s a great thing.
Instead, we get over the top action which seems to be a genre with the Marvel films, the Suicide Squad, and even Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey. But I had more fun with Grillo than these other films because Pulver is not a perfect fighter and martial artist. He fails and dies often. He is very flawed and that’s the best part about him. The relationship with his son (played by Grillo’s real son) is very good and touching at times. It does suffer a bit of too much telling and not enough showing, but I still enjoyed the emotional part.
In normal times, this film would one of the summer’s blockbuster. Here, it is a softly launch movie with no major studio backing, released as a Blu-Ray to unsuspecting viewers. I recall seeing the trailer last month and being intrigued about the film, but then forgetting it. Seeing the film on disc at the store made me grab it instantly. The trailer was that good. I wish there were more promotion for this very fun movie. But I doubt in this market that it will do well as it is an original property with a main actor best known for playing secondary characters.
The lack of extensive extras was annoying as there was so much that could have been said about this film. If the producers were interested in creating more buzz and a possible sequel to this film, more extras and some voiceover tracks and commentaries would have been great additions. Although there are previews of other movies on the disc, I can’t even access them from the menu. It’s a wasted opportunity for such a good film.
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