‘Boy Kills World’ Review: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Start Silly Fun

User Rating: 7

With more and more emerging filmmakers who grew up with video games and comic books, audiences have received films every so often that intensely reflect those influences. Whether or not it works, to varying degrees, a movie like Boy Kills World can still sit comfortably with other kinetically shot and highly energetic features such as Hardcore Henry, Crank, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, among others. For director Moritz Mohr, the straightforward (yet convoluted) story and presentation put a high emphasis on style, and it will really come down to how dizzying the mayhem on display is for the viewer. While the colorful cast and intricate action set pieces help give the film variety, it also manages to pack a lot of irreverence into what amounts to a shallow, ridiculous feature. Still, when fun is being had, it’s easy to continue.

Right away, one’s tolerance for Boy Kills World is tested thanks to its choices regarding the lead character. No, I’m not referring to the permanent villain face Bill Skarsgård must work with while portraying “Boy,” a man looking to avenge his murdered family. It’s the fact that Boy is a death-mute, and we hear H. Jon Benjamin’s voice serving as his constant inner monologue (this was the voice from Boy’s favorite video game). He also frequently bickers with the ghost of his dead younger sister (Quinn Copeland). That allows for a lot of comedy (dark, twisted, or otherwise) to come into play throughout, but the choice speaks to how aggressively directed this movie is. Once on its wavelength, however, Skarsgård’s efforts to serve as a vessel for action are well-complimented by the facial expressions he must rely on, which only enhances Benjamin’s vocal performance.

See Also: ‘Free Guy’ Review: Ryan Reynolds Fights For The Programs

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the corrupt Van der Koy family governs much of the area Boy lives in. Led by Hilda van der Koy (Famke Janssen), they’re responsible for a frequent round-up of supposed criminals who are publicly executed to keep everyone in line. They are also media moguls who sponsor everything being seen on television, and they have legions of minions that range from scientists to super soldiers. Boy, having been trained by a shaman (The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian) to become the ultimate killing machine, joins up with a ragtag resistance group (Isaiah Mustafa and a hysterical Andrew Koji) to take on the Van der Koy’s, leading to a lot of elaborate, violent fights.

The action and villains are all presented as various stages and bosses in video games. Sharlto Copley, Brett Gelman, Jessica Rothe, and a standout Michelle Dockery are all on board to have a blast in different ways as different versions of threats for Boy. It’s the sort of supporting cast that feels entirely fitting for a feature like this, but that doesn’t diminish what they add to all of this. Whether it’s Copley’s nervousness, Gelman’s impishness, or the brute force offered by Rothe, Boy finds himself bouncing from one extreme to the next throughout his journey.

Fortunately, from a story perspective, while this is all a bunch of nonsense in terms of what this movie is trying to say or how important the plot (and its various twists) end up being, there’s practically a competition going on in the realm of which supporting character does best to combine exposition dumping with how game they are to go over-the-top in a manner only enhances the bloody mayhem taking place. For my money, it’s who Koji erupts onto screen with so much life, and is only given more fun tasks once partnered with Mustafa, eventually donning an outfit that will only inspire more laughs. Not to be outdone, though, Dockery is reveling in playing up the evil of her character, balancing nefarious business practices with an eventual turn toward carnage.

Speaking of carnage – this movie is a beast in terms of the fight sequences and gun battles on display. Yes, there are a lot of shaky camera movies, edits, drone shots, and other things making me feel like Mohr was a kid in a candy store when it came to the options available to him, but I can’t say it doesn’t feel planned out. The choreography is intense and complex in the right sort of ways. Given the constant action in this film, it’s impressive to see Boy Kills World sustain the energy it is after for so long.

Not hurting is the physical prowess of those who must show it. I feel like this is the most I’ve ever liked Skarsgård on screen because of the way he combines a sense of innocence with the hardcore warrior he’s been shaped into (and this film enjoys making that visually clear). Similarly, even keeping stunt performers in mind, Rothe is also engaged in complicated fight sequences, suggesting an even more interesting film by the time these two stars are more closely aligned. Naturally, given The Raid films, it’s no surprise that Ruhian is a force (and a master of 2 v 1) fight sequences. All of this could be headache-inducing for some, but I was happy to enjoy these extreme and, yes, interestingly shot scenes.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a variety of action flicks, including the darker and more spiritually-inclined (however effective) Monkey Man, along with Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon: Part 2The Scargiver, which was a lot of meaningless noise. Boy Kills World could be deemed in similar regard, except Mohr, the screenwriters, and the performers remembered that this is ultimately about having fun. As silly, bloody, and wild as it may be, once it finds its footing, the movie hits some solid highs and finds just enough meaning in its madness. Sure, a lot of video game logic is being used to have this come together, but when using power-ups wisely, the stage can be completed just fine.

Boy Kills World opens in theaters on April 26, 2024.

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the African American Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at Variety, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Firstshowing.net, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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