Boss Level

ACTION; 1hr 40min

STARRING: Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Michelle Yeoh

Death becomes him: Grillo (foreground) with assailants

Retired special forces captain Roy Pulver (Grillo) is also summarily retired from life every morning via a smorgasbord of shootings, beheadings and bone-crunching smash-crashings at the hands of an eclectic team of killers. His bizarre predicament, “a shit show from the second I open my eyes,” is the Groundhog Day of arcade video games. At 140 deaths and counting, Roy is beyond over it, as you would be if at 12.47 each day, you were rudely peppered with bullets in a bar — assuming you even make it that far. In addition to Roy’s burdensome state, his scientist ex-girlfriend and mother of his young son (Watts as Dr Jemma Wells) has apparently, suspiciously also met her maker.


This really burns Roy’s toast since he still carries a torch, despite being a womanising lush. He urgently needs to unsnarl his entrapping loop and, you know, free the planet from blowing to smithereens. Unfortunately for him, like most evil masterminds, the colonel with the time-melding answers to the mystery, who happens to be Jemma’s boss in a super-secret government lab (and Mel Gibson, yay!), isn’t inclined to care and share.


Smokin' Aces director Joe Carnahan’s blazing salute to the addictive kick of gaming lays on the cut-and-thrust at top velocity with a blaring, winking machismo that softens only for Roy’s sobering realisation of what a dissolute jerk he is. Why Watts joined this testost party is another mystery (at least Yeoh, swinging by for some swordplay, gets in on the action). But Grillo is having a Kapow of a time and I’m guessing everyone else will, as well.