‘Boy Kills World’ a relentlessly pulpy misfire

Published 5:00 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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A little bit of “Boy Kills World” goes a long way, a hyperactive, overly violent piece of pulp fiction that relentlessly pounds its audience with self-aware humor amidst lots of bloodshed.

Borrowing elements from “The Hunger Games” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and mixing it with a level of violence that would match a “John Wick” film, “Boy” tries way too hard to be clever, but ultimately becomes mind-numblingly repetitive. The experience is like watching someone play a video game at warp speed.

The film tells the story of Boy (Bill Skarsgård), a young man whose sister and mother are killed by the ruler of his post-apocalyptic town, Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen). Boy manages to escape during the incident, but is left deaf and mute. He is discovered by a martial arts expert (Yayan Ruhian) and taken in, trained to become an unstoppable assassin.

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When Boy feels the time is ready, he sets out on a quest to avenge his mother and sister – with a slew of Hilda’s henchmen and henchwomen standing in the way.

“Boy Kills World” is told through an inner-monologue by the lead character, which isn’t the character but actually a narrator of the character’s favorite video game (in this case the voice is H. Jon Benjamin). How you tolerate that running joke really does set the tone for how you will react to the rest of the film, with that gag just a taste of the humor sprinkled throughout the film.

Having a video game narrator does prove to be appropriate in the sense that the action sequences are all staged like various levels of the video game, with the violence treated in such a nonchalant manner that it borders on offensive.

It’s as if first-time feature film director Moritz Mohr doesn’t know when to stop, opting to pace the whole thing at such a pace that, to its credit, makes it hard to realize how bad it’s all staged.

To his credit, Skarsgård does the best that he can with the material given, proving himself to be a worthy action star even when the material fails him. At least Boy is given a little bit of development, which is more than you can say for the supporting cast – with everyone from Janssen to Jessica Rothe wasted with underdeveloped characters.

Only Michelle Dockery as Hilda’s power-hungry sister gets any real moments to shine.

It all builds to a final act that features a twist that most will see coming and an odd tone shift that gets a little too sentimental given all the bloodshed that has proceeded it.

By that point, it’s become obvious that “Boy Kills World” is a one-trick pony in which the one strength isn’t close to enough to carry an entire feature film.