Review: 'Boss Level' is 'Groundhog Day' with extreme violence

Frank Grillo stars as a guy who can't stop getting killed in time-loop action romp

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Roy Pulver can't catch a break. Every morning when he wakes up he's attacked by sword wielding baddies, heavy artillery raining from the helicopter outside the window of his loft and various others who want him dead. Often, they succeed. And he's just gotta wake up and do it all over again. 

It's "Groundhog Day" meets "Grand Theft Auto" in "Boss Level," and it's fun until it's not. The fun part is watching Frank Grillo narrowly escape death over and over again, only to screw up and have a new wrinkle to master the following day. The not-so-fun part is the explanation for everything, which screeches the action to a halt far too many times. 

Frank Grillo and Selina Lo in "Boss Level."

But there's plenty to love in all that action. Grillo's Roy is decapitated on multiple occasions, he gets riddled with machine gun bullets, smashed up in car wrecks and is stalked by a bomb-wielding dwarf, but every day he learns a little more about what not to do in order to keep staying alive. And he begins to piece together what is happening to him. 

That's got a lot to do with Jemma Wells (Naomi Watts), the mother of his son, who works in a security firm where they're testing a new device that kinda-sorta brings about the end of the world. And that facility is run by Colonel Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson), so you know he's up to no good, even if Jemma's intentions are pure.  

Director Joe Carnahan ("Narc," "The Grey") has a ball putting Roy through hell over and over and over again, and Grillo has the right attitude and temperament as a special forces badass who is getting used as an experimental guinea pig in a scheme beyond his imagining. The pieces don't always add up, but there are worse ways to kill a couple hours. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Boss Level'

GRADE: B-

Not rated: Extreme violence, language

Running time: 94 minutes

On Hulu