Thursday, May 23, 2024

“BOY KILLS WORLD”

THE STORY – Boy is a mayhem machine who’s been training to assassinate the bloodthirsty Hilda Van Der Koy and avenge his family’s murder. Guided by his sister’s mischievous spirit, Boy uncovers one stunning revelation after another as he barrels toward Hilda.

THE CAST – Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery, Famke Janssen, Sharlto Copley, Brett Gelman, Yayan Ruhian, Isaiah Mustafa & Andrew Koji

THE TEAM – Moritz Mohr (Director), Tyler Burton Smith & Arend Remmers (Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 111 Minutes


Regarding action films, revenge is a common trope for our heroes. The protagonist is usually wronged by some system of oppression, and, in retaliation, they dedicate their entire life to avenging their loved ones. It’s a simple concept that allows the audience to quickly root for the hero. And it usually works. The concept has resulted in substantial action films like the “John Wick” franchise, “Kill Bill,” “Oldboy, and others.

“Boy Kills World follows a similar setup to other revenge action films. Boy (shared by Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti as Young Boy and Bill Skarsgård as the adult character) seeks revenge against the world’s leader, Hilda Van Der Koy (Framke Janssen), who murdered Boy’s mother and little sister in the town square when he was young. Now, as an adult, having been trained in hiding by a shaman (Yayan Ruhian), he is ready to kill Hilda and the rest of the Van Der Koy family.

Director Moritz Mohr, who co-wrote the film with Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers, has injected a massive dose of creativity into this project. At first glance, one would assume this film is an adaptation of a video game, anime show, or graphic novel. The fact that this is an original concept from Mohr is worthy of celebration. Everything in the world of “Boy Kills World is somewhat familiar to our world but over-the-top and extravagant. It’s all over–the–top, campy, and absurd, from the environment to the characters.

Unfortunately, in all of this fun style and stimulation, Mohr does little to introduce the audience to his world. The vital concept of Boy wanting to kill Hilda is obvious, but the rules of the world and its characters aren’t. Instead, Mohr and his writing team quickly thrust Boy on his journey, where he meets absurd characters and is thrown into ridiculous circumstances. Boy quickly starts his journey to find and kill Hilda, giving the audience little room to adapt to the world and understand the history of its land. This makes it difficult for audiences to become fully invested in Boy’s mission or the obstacles he must overcome to get to Hilda. Additionally, the film’s tone is brutal and bizarre, which only intensifies as the film continues. So, if viewers aren’t fans of this type of comedy, then the film, particularly the first half, will be incredibly unengaging and borderline unwatchable. This is a shame, considering how strong the second half is, as it’s much more focused on character development.

However, for a film titled “Boy Kills World, there is undoubtedly a significant amount of action and killing. Action designer/director/stunt coordinator Dawid Szatarski infuses the film with engaging and thoroughly entertaining (and gory) action set pieces. This element, combined with the costume and projection design, is what best showcases the film’s anime and video game-like style. Each set piece gradually increases in stakes, brutality, violence, and absurdism – both positively and negatively. The camera work and editing may bring down the action overall, but the fighting scenes – particularly the hand-to-hand combat featuring Skarsgård – are still pretty engaging.

What also elevates the film is the cast. “Boy Kills World has a great ensemble, including Michelle Dockery as Hilda’s uptight sister, who runs the business side of her dictatorship, and Yayan Ruhian as the wise yet wacky shaman. But it’s Skarsgård who honestly gives a commanding performance here. Boy is deaf and mute; therefore, Skarsgård must rely on body language for his entire performance. Boy is full of vengeance but is also native, which plays well into the absurd comedic tone of the film. Additionally, there is a tragic element to Boy, as he is still very much a character removed from his family and forced to live in isolation. He’s angry, but he’s also sad and stunted in his grief. Skarsgård wonderfully balances these two ends of the spectrum, showing Boy’s desperate need for revenge but also how he’s a fish out of water due to his hearing impairment and from living in isolation – all while being a pure action star throughout the film. In addition, H. Jon Benjamin’s voiceover as Boy’s inner monologue pairs perfectly with Skarsgård’s facial expressions. As Hilda, Janssen also has compelling moments that are integral to the plot and are both campy and effective.

For some, “Boy Kills World will have a rocky start. This is understandable because the film’s tone is certainly not for everyone, but it really sticks the landing. Mohr puts all of the character work in the back half of the film; this may be a disservice to the characters, but he is still able to get his audience to feel a sense of catharsis by the end. If bonkers R-rated action films are your cup of tea – meaning, if you are a boy between the ages of 12 and 20 – then “Boy Kills World is the perfect film for you. For others, it will be far from perfect. But, if you give it the time of day, “Boy Kills World is a fun spectacle.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Bill Skarsgård is a great lead, giving a compelling comedic and action-based performance. The family drama and revenge elements are poignant. H. Jon Benjamin's voiceover is both funny and effective.

THE BAD - Not enough time is spent developing the world and the stakes. The first half leans heavily on absurdism, which can easily be too silly and ridiculous for general audiences.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Lauren LaMagna
Lauren LaMagnahttps://nextbestpicture.com
Assistant arts editor at Daily Collegian. Film & TV copy editor.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Bill Skarsgård is a great lead, giving a compelling comedic and action-based performance. The family drama and revenge elements are poignant. H. Jon Benjamin's voiceover is both funny and effective.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>Not enough time is spent developing the world and the stakes. The first half leans heavily on absurdism, which can easily be too silly and ridiculous for general audiences.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"BOY KILLS WORLD"