Boy Kills World Review

Boy Kills World
In a dystopian totalitarian state, deaf and mute Boy (Bill Skarsgård) seeks revenge against those that killed his family years earlier.

by Sophie Butcher |
Published on
Original Title:

Boy Kills World

The ‘badass guy goes on rampage after his family and/or dog is murdered’ genre is anything but original at this point — see the John Wick franchise as one of the ultimate examples, and Dev Patel’s Monkey Man as a recent one. Director Moritz Mohr tries to put a new spin on it with Boy Kills World by transplanting the setting to a zany, capitalism-fuelled dystopia, infusing it with video-game elements, and turning the violence up to 11. Unfortunately, the result is more of a derivative, headache-inducing imitation of the revenge thriller than a fresh interpretation of it.

Boy Kills World

We’re thrust into the silent protagonist Boy’s (Bill Skarsgård) backstory immediately via booming, parodic voiceover that continues throughout the film, a way to let us into the mute character’s thoughts (but given that it’s not Skarsgård’s voice, it’s continually distracting and disconnecting). His family’s deaths are depicted through flashback at the speed of light, before moving on to an epic training montage, as Boy (played as a youngster by twins Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) is transformed into a killing machine by the mysterious Shaman (The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian). His final form is the remarkably ripped Skarsgård, who sets out to avenge his mother and sister by seeing off the glamorous, tyrannical leaders of this world, the Van Der Koys.

The film around those action scenes is thinly drawn and obnoxiously executed.

When the rampage comes, it goes hard. The deranged action and intricate fight choreography are where Boy Kills World shines — the camera swoops around set-pieces including a two-against-many corridor fight, a dining-table massacre interspersed with munching on macarons, and the gnarliest use of a cheese-grater since Evil Dead Rise, all realised in visceral, wince-inducing detail.

The film around those action scenes, however, is thinly drawn and obnoxiously executed. We’re given very little sense of the emotional connection between Boy and his family, or the Shaman, so find it hard to care about them or what Boy is avenging; the rules of the oppressive society he’s fighting against are never established beyond a savage yearly ritual called ‘The Culling’; and the general tone is going for a Deadpool-style, fourth-wall-breaking wit that, save, for a couple of chuckle-worthy moments, never quite lands.

Amongst a smorgasbord of clear influences — from The Hunger Games to Tarantino — the language of video games is the most prominent, threaded through everything from the plot, to the visuals, to the colourful, exaggerated character design. But in its pursuit to feel more like a game, Boy Kills World fails to deliver the depth and dimension it needs to really work as a movie.

Despite some fun action excess and an impressively committed performance from Bill Skarsgård, Boy Kills World is a muddled, tiring mess, favouring violent shocks over cohesive storytelling.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us