Film Review: Boy Kills World is a bonkers live-action cartoon that delights in its brutal creativty

Childlike yet ultra violent, there’s a lot of style over substance when it comes to Mortiz Mohr‘s Boy Kills World, an exaggerated, audacious, attention-seeking actioner that doesn’t have much to say, but succeeds at being a delirious slice of escapism that deserves points for the fact that it’s a bonkers, live-action (R-rated) cartoon that speaks to its director’s unique vision.

Set in a dystopian future (there’s a whiff of The Hunger Games about it all here), the titular Boy (Bill Skarsgård, all expressive eyes and enviable abs) is a deaf, mute vigilante who lives in the jungle with Shaman (Yahan Ruhian, best known from his work in The Raid), his teacher who raised him from a lad after rescuing him from the remaining slaughter of his family.  Boy has been trained to brutal perfection to be the ultimate weapon, with his eventual goal being to take down the dictator Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the woman responsible for both his family’s end and the cause of his hearing and speaking afflictions.

Revenge at its most basic and primal is at the core of Boy Kills World, but there wouldn’t be too much to write about had Mohr stuck to something so familiar.  Thankfully, Boy’s journey is enhanced by the physical embodiment of his memory of his little sister (Quinn Copeland), who serves as something of a conscience for him, and his own inner monologue (the voice of Archer himself, H. Jon Benjamin), a voice he chose for himself off a video game he enjoyed as a child.  It’s all so preposterous, and it doesn’t get any more grounded going forward, as Boy, silently but deadly, rips his way through armies of men to get to the Van Der Koys in a bid to also overthrow their public execution-style game – known as The Culling – that sees government “enemies” fight to their death in a televised game show.

It’s the type of film that disassociates itself from logic, but everything in the universe of Boy Kills World makes perfect sense to its characters, and it’s because of such commitment to the absurdity that it gets away with how bombastic it is.  Skarsgård has the film resting on his incredibly sculpted shoulders, and the fact that he has such an expressive face allows him to sell Boy’s inner turmoil.  But as much as this is his movie, Mohr has assembled a truly game ensemble to help round out the lunacy, with Andrew Koji proving hilariously hyperactive as a cockney resistance fighter, Basho; Michelle Dockery, Brett Gelman and Sharlto Copley leaning into the theatrical, villainous tendencies as extensions of the Van Der Koy clan; and Jessica Rothe flexing her action heroine muscle as June27, an often helmet-attired Van Der Koy righthand, who we suspect is susceptible to Boy’s attempted overthrowing.

With its evil government addition and wild, unbridled violence, some audiences may be expecting Mohr’s script – written in conjunction with Tyler Burton Smith (the 2019 remake of Child’s Play) and Arend Remmers (the TV series Oderbruch) – to serve as some kind of commentary.  Boy Kills World isn’t that deep.  And if viewers simply go into this with an open mind on how wild and weird filmmaking can be when creatives are allowed to execute their very violent vision without interruption, there’s likely to be a great time had.  Expect nonsense.  You’re welcome.


Boy Kills World is screening in Australian theatres from May 2nd, 2024.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.