BOY KILLS WORLD movie poster | ©2024 Lionsgate

BOY KILLS WORLD movie poster | ©2024 Lionsgate

Rating: R
Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Famke Janssen, Michelle Dockery, Andrew Koji, Brett Gelman, Isaiah Mustafa, Yayan Ruhian, Sharlto Copley, Quinn Copeland, H. Jon Benjamin (voice)
Writers: Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers, story by Arend Remmers & Moritz Mohr
Director: Moritz Mohr
Distributor: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
Release Date: April 26, 2024

 To paraphrase an old saying, killing is easy, comedy is hard. BOY KILLS WORLD brings this to mind. As an action/revenge movie, it is structured well by screenwriters Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers, working from a story by Remmers and director Moritz Mohr. It has some impressive fight sequences, choreographed by second unit director Dawid Dztarski. It has a terrific lead in Bill Skarsgård, who has gotten himself into shape and then some to play a young man who sees his life’s purpose as being an instrument of vengeance.

But BOY KILLS WORLD also wants to be funny, in the manner of DEADPOOL or one of producer Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD movies. The jokes occasionally land, but the timing is frequently off. Then there’s a segue into Greek-style tragedy, then a bounce back. We can understand what the filmmakers are going for, and even how and why the elements should work, but they often don’t quite hit the mark.

H. Jon Benjamin provides the voiceover thoughts of Skarsgård’s character Boy. Boy is trained from childhood via some incredibly harsh methods by the Shaman (Yayan Ruhian) in the jungle. Deaf and mute, Boy can read lips. He can also read, full stop, and enjoys expanding his vocabulary by poring over the dictionary.

The Shaman has drilled it into Boy’s mind that his destiny is to rid the world of fascist dictator Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen). Every year, Hilda and her family sponsor the Culling, in which twelve people are executed for ostensible crimes against the state. This is how Boy lost his mother and beloved little sister Mina (Quinn Copeland), who often appears to him in playful visions.

When the Shaman brings Boy to the city, although the Shaman insists Boy is not ready, Boy bounds away to find the Van Der Koys. It turns out Hilda has a largish family, with each member posing a different kind of threat. There is also a back story. Throughout, there is a whole lot of very bloody fighting, some in strange/absurd places and some more or less where we’d expect to see movie fights happen.

BOY KILLS WORLD excels at putting together Skarsgård’s onscreen performance with Benjamin’s voice. This is consistently amusing, but sometimes the movie leans on it harder than the device can sustain. Likewise, jokes that might work if they were fleeting last too long (and some just aren’t chuckle-worthy in the first place), while the tonal shifts don’t segue gracefully.

BOY KILLS WORLD has its bright spots and moments of inspiration, but it tries too hard for both humor and emotional impact.

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