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Movie Review: ‘Boy Kills World’


Movie Review: ‘Boy Kills World’


Bill Skarsgård in 'Boy Kills World'.

Bill Skarsgård in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

In theaters on Friday, April 26th, ‘Boy Kills World’ is a revenge thriller that choose to layer dark, madcap humor over its clear ‘John Wick’ influence. Powered by a solid, committed central performance from Bill Skarsgård and some entertaining quirk from elsewhere in the cast, it does somewhat fall victim to a thin storyline that gives it much more of a style over substance feel and sometimes comes across as a video game rather than a movie.

Still, with some interesting permutations later in the plot, it does prove to have a little more going on under the surface.

Related Article: Famke Janssen and Brett Gelman Talk Action Thriller ‘Boy Kills World’

Does ‘Boy Kills World’ punch above its weight?

Yayan Ruhian in 'Boy Kills World'. Photo: Lionsgate.

Yayan Ruhian in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

If you only watch one movie this year where Bill Skarsgård goes on a violent rampage intent on wiping out the people who did him wrong… well, we’ve yet to see ‘The Crow’, so we can’t tell you whether ‘Boy Kills World’ is the better of the two.

But it certainly has a level of originality to put it above a new adaptation of a graphic novel that was first brought to screens in 1994. That said, what we have here is very much a blend of ‘John Wick’, ‘The Hunger Games’ with just a dash of a twisted take on ‘The Karate Kid’.

Script and Direction

Sharlto Copley in 'Boy Kills World'.

Sharlto Copley in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

Tyler Burton Smith wrote the script here, working with Arend Remmbers to adapt the short film that the latter created alongside director Moritz Mohr.

While Skarsgård’s performance is mute, the screenplay for the movie is nevertheless full of entertaining voice-over from H. Jon Benjamin (‘Bob’s Burgers’), who provides an insight into what’s going through his character’s head. Whether it’s quoting from the dictionary that the younger version of Boy studies or commenting on what’s going on, it’s a real highlight of the movie as a whole –– all credit to the team for hiring someone who knows what they’re doing on the voice-over front.

Yet for the most part, the movie is reliant on its fight scenes, and they are certainly numerous, even if they eventually start to make you a little numb. Even with the invention on display here, the sheer brutality of every clash is to such a level that you start to feel battered by it yourself. Still, as the credit implies, it’s fight designer/director and coordinator Dawid Szatarski who deserves the lion’s share of the credit here.

But Mohr, who expands his original concept here, certainly has a lot of flare to spare when it comes to camera moves and performances. It’s clear he and his team were working to a tighter budget than the likes of either ‘Wick’ or ‘Hunger Games’, but he gets a lot out of it.

Performances

Michelle Dockery in 'Boy Kills World'.

Michelle Dockery in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

Appearing in almost every scene (aside from early story moments when the younger version of his character is on screen, played by twins Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti), Skarsgård brings his typical intensity to the role, and very clearly threw himself into training (he’s essentially carved from stone here) to pull off the various fights.

And his “Boy” is more than simply a savage, revenge-happy warrior –– he’s a damaged personality who has suffered years of trauma and has a mission on his mind (even if it’s not the mission he thinks it is). In tandem with Benjamin’s quirky delivery, it combines to make for a watchable lead role.

As his Guru, Yayan Ruhian channels the film’s anarchic style, bringing a deranged Mr. Miyagi energy to the screens, the world’s most dangerous mentor. He doesn’t have a lot to do besides show off his considerable martial arts skills (you’ll have seen him in the ‘Raid’ movies and the third ‘John Wick’ outing), but he does the job well.

On the villainous side of things, we have an assembled group who are clearly having a blast playing atrocious, dystopian autocrats, a collection of paranoid ramblers and scheming social climbers.

Michelle Dockery in 'Boy Kills World'.

Michelle Dockery in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

Famke Janssen does a lot with relatively little as the power-obsessed Hilda Van Der Koy, one part Hitler, one part Margaret Thatcher. Around her are the likes of Brett Gelman (superbly sleazy as the script-happy brother-in-law Glen), while Sharlto Copley leans into his ability to make smarmy assholes likeable. Well, sort of. But even when he’s at his worst, he’s utterly entertaining.

Michelle Dockery, meanwhile, is creepy on a whole other level as Hilda’s sister Melanie, the real power behind the throne.

And then there’s June 27, played by Jessica Rothe. The star of the ‘Happy Death Day’ movies is just as committed as the rest, and proves she’s got the action chops as much as Skarsgård. Plus, she delivers when called upon to show other sides to her character.

Final Thoughts

Jessica Rothe in 'Boy Kills World'.

Jessica Rothe in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

‘Boy Kills World’ is certainly frenetic and action-packed, with a healthy line in dark, zany comedy and some clever ideas.

But in a world where movies such as ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’, ‘John Wick’ and other exist, it doesn’t seem as completely original as it might, and it frequently mistakes punching for plot. Don’t let that stop you from checking out something that could use the support, though.

‘Boy Kills World’ receives 6 out of 10 stars.

R1 hr 51 minApr 22nd, 2024

Showtimes & Tickets

Skarsgård stars as “Boy” who vows revenge after his family is murdered by Hilda Van Der Koy (Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt post-apocalyptic dynasty… Read the Plot

What’s the story of ‘‘Boy Kills World’?

The new movie stars Bill Skarsgård as a young man known only as “Boy”, who vows revenge after his family is murdered by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt post-apocalyptic dynasty that left the boy orphaned, deaf and voiceless.

Driven by his inner voice, one which he co-opted from his favorite childhood video game, Boy trains with a mysterious shaman (Yayan Ruhian) to become an instrument of death and is set loose on the eve of the annual culling of dissidents. Bedlam ensues as Boy commits bloody martial arts mayhem, inciting a wrath of carnage and blood-letting.

As he tries to get his bearings in this delirious realm, Boy soon falls in with a desperate resistance group, all the while bickering with the apparent ghost of his rebellious little sister.

Who is in the cast of ‘Boy Kills World’?

  • Bill Skarsgård as Boy
  • H. Jon Benjamin as Boy’s “inner voice”
  • Jessica Rothe as June 27
  • Michelle Dockery as Melanie van der Koy
  • Brett Gelman as Gideon van der Koy
  • Isaiah Mustafa as Benny
  • Andrew Koji as Basho
  • Famke Janssen as Hilda van der Koy
  • Sharlto Copley as Glen van der Koy
  • Yayan Ruhian as a shaman
Brett Gelman in 'Boy Kills World'.

Brett Gelman in ‘Boy Kills World’. Photo: Lionsgate.

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