Boy Kills World (2023)

Rating: B

Dir: Moritz Mohr
Star: Bill Skarsgård, H. Jon Benjamin, Michelle Dockery, Yayan Ruhian

If you can imagine the offspring resulting from a drunken threesome between Archer, Equilibrium and Hobo With a Shotgun, you may be getting in the right direction. Kinda. It does continue a recent trend, which I’m enjoying, of action movies which lean into their batshit insanity. I think Patient Zero for this subgenre might have been Crank, and they seem to have blossomed in number of late, from Sisu to Project Wolf Hunting. They are all hyperviolent, distanced from reality, often operate with tongue in cheek to varying degree, and have protagonists who are almost caricatures of male identity (even if they’re women, as in Furiosa). Some kind of vengeance for past wrongs may be involved. 

In particular, this iteration seems particularly similar to Monkey Man, though wisely doesn’t take itself as seriously. Deaf/mute hero Boy (Skarsgård) watched as his family was wiped out by totalitarian dictator Melanie Van Der Koy (Dockery). He escaped to the jungle, where he was brought up by Shaman (Ruhian) and trained into a finely-tuned killing machine. Now Boy is ready to take revenge on the entire Van Der Koy family. Except, he’s going to find out that a lot of things are not as he has been told. But it’s mostly about extravagant and exaggerated mayhem. Example: when one of his opponents gets an arm trapped by a metal screen, he vigorously corkscrews until it tears off, and continues fighting. “Player 2 is fucking crazy,” muses Boy.

Though Boy can’t speak, we get to hear this inner monologue, provided by Benjamin. He actually did voice Archer, and there’s much the same snark on display here, influenced by video games too, as the above quote likely suggests. [You get use of a cheese grater as an offensive weapon – which, surprisingly, isn’t an Evil Dead Rise reference, despite Sam Raimi’s presence as a producer] The action is generally well-done, if occasionally a little too kinetic in the editing, and Skarsgård looks impressively ripped. The film is strengthened by a strong cast of supporting characters on both sides. Even the Van Der Koy family aren’t entirely bad. Deranged megalomaniacs, sure. Just not utterly without redeeming qualities, and it’s notable they aren’t the Final Boss for Boy.

You will definitely have to buy into the self-aware style and approach here. But given Chris and I tend to make sarcastic comments to each other while watching films, we enjoyed a movie which gets in there first. Like Monkey Man, this is a passion project which needed years to reach the screen as the director’s feature debut. However, I think Boy worked better, with a gleeful commitment to its brutality, dragging me in to a world where everybody is barking mad. It feels like a feature-length version of the Watchmen logo, a blood-spattered smiley for a world where revenge-driven violence is what everyone seems to want. Though it can still end up being what you need.