Boy Kills World

Boy Kills World isn’t quite the worst film so far this year but it’s definitely the most obnoxious. Sometimes movies seem to be made by people who have seen too many movies. They spend an excess amount of time trying to create a string of “awesome” moments, thereby sacrificing story, characterization, and even entertainment value in the process. Director Moritz Mohr seems like one of those people. Lots of effort clearly went into making a slick, manic production. The endless show-off quality wore me out within half an hour, though.

The film hauls out a cliched revenge plot. As a child, the deaf/mute Boy saw his family killed by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the ruler of a dystopian future society. Years of grueling martial arts fight training followed under the tutelage of his mentor, Shaman (Yayan Ruhian). Now an adult (played by Bill Skarsgård), Boy is ready to kill Hilda. The hitch is that she’s got a cabal of family members around her, including a propaganda minister (Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery), a speechwriter (Brett Gelman), and a public relations expert (Sharlto Copley). She additionally has a helmet-wearing female warrior called June27 (Jessica Rothe) protecting her.

Once that premise is established, Boy Kills World delivers a series of scenes where sadistic violence is played for laughs. All of it is staged in an exaggerated manner meant to be reminiscent of a comic book or an anime. Mohr carries out the mayhem with the aid of rapid-fire editing, graphics that flash onscreen, and dizzying camera movements. He doesn’t care about the narrative, he cares about generating dozens of hyper-violent moments to titillate viewers. (One character has a heavy object comedically dropped on his face, leaving it bashed in beyond the point of recognition.) In that regard, the movie plays like a demo reel to show off fight moves and blood-spurting effects.

Universal

Compounding the monotony of that is Boy’s ongoing interior monologue, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. Because he views himself as almost a superhero, the narration is delivered in a stentorian tone. Remember Don LaFontaine, the trailer voiceover guy who would say dramatic things like In a world…? Imagine you had to spend two straight hours listening to him ramble on like that. That’s what you get in Boy Kills World.

Movies with frantic, near non-stop action have become more common in recent years. Done right, you get the John Wick series or Kingsmen: The Secret Service. In those cases, the action serves the story. Done incorrectly, you get stuff like Guns Akimbo and Hardcore Henry - pictures that may satisfy viewers who only care about receiving an extended visceral jolt but offer nothing of genuine value. It’s kind of depressing to watch a movie with such minimal ambition, especially one like Boy Kills World that has an appealing cast.

Non-stop carnage is the sole reason for the picture’s existence. It’s a barrage of “cool” shots that find humans having sharp objects thrust into their bodies, getting their limbs broken, and undergoing various forms of mutilation. What tanks it isn’t the gratuitousness of the violence, it’s the lack of imagination. Mohr is really just aping stuff that’s been done in The Raid: Redemption and a dozen other high-octane action flicks. Everything else is an afterthought, including a third act plot twist so predictable that you can see it coming several miles away.

With its unhinged pacing and attention-seeking style, sitting through Boy Kills World feels like having someone pour a gallon of Red Bull down your throat, inject you with several vials of adrenaline, then scream in your face while blasting death metal music as loudly as possible. In other words, it’s an experience you can’t wait to escape from.


out of four

Boy Kills World is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, language, some drug use, and sexual references. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.


© 2024 Mike McGranaghan