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‘Boy Kills World’ (review)

Starting with the obligatory training montage showing the years of effort Boy has put into becoming as athletic, fast and deadly as possible, we follow him as a series of events lead him closer to his goal in a film that borrows heavily from video game aesthetics and structures to tell a wacky, gory story of revenge.

Much like its aesthetics, the characters also feel like archetypes of characters from video games and action comedies of decades past, which gives the film a quality of being pop cultural comfort food that is quite reassuring to settle down with in the dark of the cinema.

The action is competently realized with kinetic choreography, which a ripped Bill Skargård sells well thanks to his unwavering commitment, and the stunt crew’s efforts are only further enhanced by the great camerawork.

A merc without a mouth due to muteness, Skarsgård’s titular Boy is instead voiced by H. Jon Benjamin, who emulates the voice of a video game character Boy favored before his life got turned upside down and he was forced to become a killing machine.

This use of a voice-over may feel tedious to those who struggle with quipping in general, as an argument can also be made that it makes exposition dumping more effortless than usual, but others in turn will find it subversively liberating to always have a voiceover stating whatever the character thinks, as no one but him can hear this inner monologue after all.

Similarly, the way Skarsgård’s expressions are directed to correspond with the voiceover, and how the two elements are subsequently edited together, does imbue this creative choice with a certain degree of comical timing that works in the film’s favor.

Outside of Skarsgård’s stellar investment in the lead role, the performances are nothing to write home about, but since this is an over-the-top action comedy, the inherent campiness of many of the supporting players largely works.

In terms of the narrative, it is a revenge tale as old as time, and while it hardly reinvents the wheel narratively, it is serviceable as a backdrop for the great action set pieces, but there is nothing much in the way of narrative complexity here.

Instead, some narrative choices even risk disengaging the audience’s investment in some of the characters as the story unfolds, meaning the film starts stronger than it finishes.

Likely to do well with audiences who enjoyed the likes of Kick-Ass and Deadpool, Boy Kills World leans more towards the earlier efforts of Matthew Vaughn than it does the specific type of snappy quipping that even Ryan Reynolds struggled to replicate in Deadpool 2 after he seemingly wrote the book on obnoxiously witty banter with his first Deadpool film.

This is not to say that Boy Kills World is in any way aping Kick-Ass or Deadpool to ride the coattails of their successes, as it is evident Mohr poured his heart and soul into making Boy Kills World, which, if nothing else, makes it a fun but somewhat forgettable way for action comedy fans to pass time at the cinema until we learn if Deadpool and Wolverine is able to live up to the hype.

Verdict: 6 out of 10.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Sam Raimi, Zainab Azizi, Roy Lee,
Wayne Fitzjohn, Simon Swart, Stuart Manashil, Dan Kagan, Alex Lebovici
Screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith, Arend Remmers
Story by Arend Remmers, Moritz Mohr
Based on Boy Kills World by Armend Remmers, Moritz Mohr
Directed by Moritz Mohr
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery, Famke Janssen,
Sharlto Copley, Brett Gelman, Isaiah Mustafa, Andrew Koji

 

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