December 3, 2021

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Boss level: criticism sans joy, ni stick

We’ll be without news for a long time from Joe Carnahan and his Boss Levels, too many time loops that appear on video in our latitudes. While theaters are closed and audiences are looking for an entertaining vacation, does this film manage to renew the genre of which it is a part, as friendly Palm Springs did before?

Joe Carnahan is a director who never managed to secure his place in Hollywood. Craftsmen from the rough and the ruthless cinema, we owe him the delirious black Narc and the loud but luxurious Le Territoire des loups. A strong proposal, not frankly registered in its time, as its recent failure confirms. Consecutively involved in Death Wish then Bad Boys for Life, he had to abandon each of these projects before he could make it happen.

In many ways, Boss Level appears to directors as less ambitious but more restrained, evoking a cross between Groundhog Day and Furibard’s Early prices. Then the feature film disappeared from Hollywood’s radar for months, until perennial concerns about its progress. And while he’s finally arrived, in the midst of the film’s sinisterosis and after a bunch of production based on time loops, the promise of a disruptive and supercharged trip is quickly fading.

Every day, Roy wakes up to find that he is being hunted by a group of determined and skilled assassins. Every day he dies, and every day he starts over. Not only is this framework now highly awaited, but the choice made by scenarios to try to update it is almost systematically disastrous.

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Unable to incorporate meat into his concept, Carnahan therefore chooses not to chronologically narrate the plot, to try to keep some surprises to himself according to his outdated stages, but in doing so, he leaves us with two important ingredients. First, our character no longer has a progression curve, as we find he’s been violated by his timed loop rules and is quite exhausted. It’s impossible to bond with this protagonist, who seems at first determined by the lack of investment and stakes in the story that is told to us.

Second, because this narrative scattering is completely artificial, Boss Levels are forced to artificially recreate structural coherence… through voiceover. And in vain we love this red-label nag by Frank Grillo, not having a script that can get past this overly heavy pill. But at least this comedian who specializes in physical roles and martial arts shows is synonymous with cosmic mornifles, fitting perfectly with Mel Gibson’s legendary charisma.

Here too, the disappointment was severe. The former too rarely has a chance to engage in action scenes, while the latter is used as a pathetic cigar smoking accessory between two disembodied lines. Post-production is like banging a baby against a wall, this film is almost never spectacular. If we suspect that his limited budget has limited his possibilities in terms of action, the results are hard to see.

Poor cuts, mellow choreography… we don’t find any aggressiveness or staging art that makes the director’s mark, as evidenced by the rickety climax, encapsulated in stills shooting and endless dialogue. So many incredible mistakes that make greatness here and there in video games and parenting hard to bear.