A dystopian fever dream action film that follows Boy, a deaf person with a vibrant imagination. When his family is murdered, he is trained by a mysterious shaman to repress his childish imagination and become an instrument of death.

Chuck says:

Like a favored thoroughbred that fades in the stretch, Moritz Mohr’s “Boy Kills World” begins strongly with a seemingly new twist on an old format, only to devolve into a repetitive senseless orgy of violence. A strong turn from Bill Skarsgard, effective over-the-top performances from three screen veterans and an intriguing premise end up being forgotten amidst a virtual non-stop, unimaginative exercise in gratuitous gore.

There’s no time or place given as to where the action takes place, but it is in the near future in a dystopian society. I have a feeling it’s nestled in between “The Hunger Games’” Panem and the ravaged Chicago of “Divergent.” Seems a despot, Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen) and her siblings have taken over the local metropolis. Each year, The Culling is held, a gathering up of enemies of the state who are then executed on live television. They’re portrayed as “those who threaten our way of life,” their deaths seen as a necessary step to keep the status quo.

Of course, this sort of practice is going to leave many widows and orphans, one of them being Boy (Skarsgard). Having seen his mother gunned down in front of him, he’s intent on toppling the Van Der Koy dynasty. Taken in by a shaman (Yayan Ruhian), he’s been trained and has a lethal skill set that would make Liam Neeson jealous. After witnessing the latest culling, Boy is triggered and decides to stage a one-man invasion of the Van Der Koy compound, intent on wiping them all out.

Yes, a sense of déjà vu will occur again and again, as “Boy” borrows from numerous sources, failing to improve on any of the plot elements its three screenwriters have stolen. However, what is fresh it the meta take Mohr uses, poking fun at dystopian features and action flicks right and left.

The funniest conceit is that Boy is mute and deaf, yet we are privy to his inner monologue, a running commentary on the action that’s, at times clever and quite funny. While lines like “I am an instrument shaped for a single purpose,” may seem flat on the page, Skarsgard’s overly earnest delivery of it and others like it inject much needed humor to the proceedings.

Equally fun are the performances from Michelle Dockery, Brett Gelman and Sharlto Copely as Melanie, Gideon, and Glen respectively, the other Van Der Koy’s, each struggling to do their part to keep the familial dynasty in power. The trails these three must endure are ridiculous, their difficulties compounded by the characters’ raging egos. This trio provides the best moments of the film, playing their roles to the hilt, knowing full well that with a film this extreme, only a scene-rendering performance will ensure they won’t be relegated to being part of the background.

The fight scenes, of which there are about ten too many, are imaginatively choregraphed, bolstered by Mohr’s constantly moving camera. There’s an energy to these sequences, as well as a sense of dark humor at play during them, that makes them initially entertaining.

However, like everything that’s repeated ad nauseum, the action soon becomes tedious. Even worse, the humor in the cartoonish violence eventually gives way to a sense of brutality that’s off-putting.  Unfortunately, Mohr takes a good idea and runs it into the ground. What could have been an effective action film parody devolves into a sophomoric exercise that bludgeons the viewer, leaving them numb and disinterested. Ultimately, this ends up being one bad “Boy.”

1 1/2 Stars

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