Boss Level is probably my favorite movie of the year – it’s certainly the most fun I’ve had in a good while, and thanks largely to how it repurposes the played-out Groundhog Day time-loop gimmick to poke affectionate fun at the action genre. But it also wrings a pleasantly clever and satisfying plot out of that concept, one with a deliberately ambiguous conclusion, so it’s definitely worth unpacking the Boss Level ending and trying to put the pieces together.
In its broad strokes, Boss Level is about ex-special forces badass Roy Pulver stuck reliving the same day in which a who’s-who of eccentric assassins try to kill him, often succeeding, for reasons he isn’t immediately privy to. As it turns out, they’re related to his ex-wife Jemma (Naomi Watts), a scientist working for a verbose ex-CIA colonel named Clive Ventor (Mel Gibson), who is using her to develop a time-manipulation device called the Osiris Spindle. In a visit to her right before the loop begins, Roy is told to remember the word “Osiris”, which he uses to piece together the relevant details, including the fact that Jemma put him in the spindle before she was ultimately killed.
In putting that burden on Roy, Jemma has entrusted him with saving her from Ventor and saving the world from a temporal calamity. After realizing that there’s a tracker in his tooth implanted with the help of the dental hygienist he’s forced to wake up with every day, he’s able to give himself some wiggle room so that he can fight back against the assassins. Thanks to several failed attempts he’s able to infiltrate Ventor’s facility and kill him, but in so doing he learns that assassins have been sent to kill his son, Joe. Resigning himself to the inevitability of Joe’s death and the end of the world, Roy takes the long-overdue chance to bond with his son. But it’s Joe who reveals that Jemma is still alive when this day begins, so Roy realizes he has a 14-minute window to save her.
Of course, he’s able to, and it’s the only feat in the movie that he accomplishes in a single try, pretty much entirely so he can say “just the one” when Jemma asks him how many attempts it took. But that isn’t the end of the problem. There’s still the matter of the Osiris Spindle and the impending calamity, which can only be averted by Roy entering the machine and syncing up with it, which should theoretically restart the space-time continuum, allowing it to continue along as it was. This is, essentially, self-sacrifice, since Jemma warns Roy that he might simply cease to exist. But he’s willing to take that risk for his ex-wife and his son, and he steps into the machine, at which point Boss Level ends.
So, the Boss Level ending is deliberately ambiguous – it doesn’t actually reveal what happens after Roy enters the Osiris Spindle, though we’re left to form our own deductions. Ultimately, it hardly matters, since Roy put his time in the loop to good use in bonding with his son and realizing that he would make the ultimate sacrifice to save those he loves. Some might have preferred an ending that was a bit more definitive, but this one feels of a piece with the rest of the film. Time is the one thing we have no control over, after all.
1 thought on “Boss Level ending explained – does Frank Grillo prevent the world from ending?”
There’s an alternate ending on Amazon which makes more sense. He wakes up in bed again and is now mortal. 1 last chance to fix the day.