It’s official. Time Loop is an upper-case genre. And Groundhog Day is the supermarket where screenwriters and directors go trope-shopping for the ingredients they use to create their new yet vaguely familiar dishes.
Before we get to the sublime, let’s do the ridiculous. Boss Level lost stars because at 101 minutes, it is 11 minutes too long for a comedy. Attention directors: follow a great piece of advice given to writers: “kill your babies.” Or, as I was told years ago, “Just because it was hard to write (or in your case, expensive to shoot) doesn’t mean it is interesting to read.”
Boss Level also lost Time Loop stars because no character mentioned Groundhog Day. However, in a meta moment, it made a reference to Liam Neeson, whose “certain set of skills” are echoed by Frank Grillo as protagonist Roy Pulver, a former special services officer.
Pulver is reliving the worst day of his life, trying to save his wife and son and thwart the villain (a scenery-chewing Mel Gibson as Col. Ventor). This suggests a twist no one has tried yet; as Phil asks in GHD, why couldn’t he relive the best day of his life, when “at sunset we made love like sea otters.” Well, I don’t know much about dramaturgy, as my playwriting teacher could tell you, but I suspect I know why no one will ever relive the best day of their life―where’s the drama?
This is a splatter Time Loop movie, with more echoes of Tarrantino than Ramis (including a nod to Kill Bill). If cartoon violence offends you, don’t go. The movie depicts multiple beheadings. In that sense, director Joe Carnahan and his fellow screenwriters (the ones who wrote the original story, Chris Borey & Eddie Borey) decided to go where no Time Loop movie has gone before.
There is a little too much handwavium about the reason for the loop, required here because it is central to the plot, but still distracting. At least you don’t have to guess how many times he’s been through the loop; the filmmakers conveniently provide an on-screen count.
Apparently a server dropping dishes in a restaurant is a required cliché in this genre, as is learning the preferences of a loved one (in this case Roy’s son Joe, played by Grillo’s real-life son Rio).
If you like your comedy black and gory, this is a Time Loop film for you.