‘Boy Kills World’ Review: Bill Skarsgård (Literally) Slays in Comedic Action Feature

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Boy Kills World (2023) © Signature Entertainment
Boy Kills World (2023) © Signature Entertainment

Moritz Mohr’s action thriller Boy Kills World follows Boy, a nameless trained killer, as he seeks to assassinate his nemesis Hilda Van Der Koy and avenge his murdered family. With the help of his deceased younger sister’s spirit, Boy embarks on a brutal mission of violence and mayhem in search of the elusive Van Der Koy family.

★★★☆☆

Bill Skarsgård plays the film’s nameless lead, referred to only as Boy, and is joined byJessica Rothe as June 27, Andrew Koji as Basho, and Famke Janssen as Boy’s nemesis, Hilda Van Der Koy of the tyrannical ruling Van Der Koy dynasty. 

To alleviate any confusion that may arise from its lead character’s inability to speak or hear, Boy Kills World uses a unique structuring mechanism.. The film’s voiceover comes from a beloved childhood video game that Boy used to play with his sister, providing a constant narrator throughout the film who can acclimatise viewers to Boy’s world and retaining the contradictory childlike innocence of the violent killing machine. The approach allows  Boy Kills World to get away with having slightly less exposition and narrative substance than you’d hope, as we experience the action and plot points solely through Boy’s perspective. The film flourishes when being told through Boy’s internal monologue, yet in turn, flounders when we are brought out of Boy’s narrowed focus and into the grander scope of the world that he inhabits.

As can be expected from Boy Kills World’s promotional run, the film’s greatest asset is its expertly choreographed and ingeniously creative action sequences. Bill Skarsgård certainly puts in a shift as the film’s action star, performing intricate sequences that match the likes of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman in their delicate choreography. The film is gritty, violent, and gory, interspliced with a playful goofiness from Boy’s childlike humour. From cheese graters to meat cleavers, the creative choices of weapons in Boy Kills World are certainly not for the faint of heart.

Boy Kills World (2023) © Signature Entertainment

Skarsgård gives a strangely empathetic performance, encouraging the audience to constantly root for his mission despite the violence that he enacts upon foot servants who most likely do not have much say in their government’s brutal exploits. For a film that doesn’t dwell on context very much, Boy is a rather well-fleshed out character. Through the continuous voiceover, his internal monologue allows for this initially surface-level action-lead to pack a bit more punch. His motives are conventional, but as we actually see his deceased younger sister throughout the film—through hallucinations—his intentions gain a layer of empathy and allow for Skarsgård to bring unexpected range to the role.

Unfortunately, one of Boy Kills World’s clearest pitfalls is its lack of attention to worldbuilding. The film takes place in the kind of society that would fit well in a dystopian YA narrative—think The Hunger Games or Divergent—however we learn very little about what fuels the society’s elites’ blood-thirst and need for control. It’s hard for audiences to find the stakes high enough when we are unsure of what world Boy is fighting for, or why he is fighting at all. The film favours showy action and well-executed comedy over any sort of realism or relatability that would allow viewers to invest in its narrative.

Boy Kills World (2023) © Signature Entertainment

Considering the time that the film pays for goofs and gags, the film is sometimes held back by slightly clunky dialogue and setups. Although many of the grander and more aesthetically creative comedic choices are visually appealing, Boy Kills World often struggles in its dialogue and character interactions, especially when it comes to its more humorous sequences.

The Verdict

Overall, Boy Kills World is an enjoyable action romp that will keep you involved from the get-go. Although the film certainly hasn’t changed cinema, it goes all-in on knowing what kind of film it is and executing it smoothly and effectively. The film is a good bit of fun, one that may not necessarily play on your mind for days to come, but will leave you glad that you gave it a chance.

Words by Jess Parker

Boy Kills World is in select cinemas now


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