'Boss Level' - Movie Review

Obsessed as I am with Groundhog-Day-alikes, I was really looking forward to this one. And oddly enough, the trailers don't give too much away - in fact, one of the trailers is essentially the first minute of the film, as we jump in on our protagonist's 139th attempt to survive a day when he wakes up to someone trying to kill him with a machete. He gets his shoes and pants off the floor as he ducks the first cut, gets the pants on as he steps away from another cut, gets into the kitchen for some coffee, drinks some and then disables his attacker by delivering the rest of the hot coffee to his face, etc.

Our protagonist is Roy Pulver (Frank Grillo), who gives us a running voice-over and then explains how he got here - and as we move forward, we join him in attempting to figure out how he can maybe do something about it. Grillo is both obnoxious and charming, determined and willing to grind out a solution (if you're not a video game player, look up "grinding" in that context - there's a reason the movie got its title).

What these movies need most to succeed is a lot of thought put into the structure, and the cycles that the movie goes through. And someone thought about this one a long time: the helicopter you see right at the beginning? That matters, as do most of the details. The weirdest thing about the structure in this one is that after 20 minutes of violence followed by 20 minutes of exposition and menace, we have 20 minutes of sentimentality ... but then, the aim of the "Groundhog Day" movies is that our hero learns something and becomes a better person. And while it's a bit unusual, I thought it worked. Contrary to my viewing habits, I'm not really a fan of non-stop violence, and I thought they fitted the sentimentality in surprisingly well.

This may be too violent for some (ask yourself if you're okay with a decapitated head bouncing down an escalator), but it's funny, it's well thought out, and the action is really good: I enjoyed it a lot.