Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World (2024)

‘Boy Kills World’ movie review: John Wick meets Scott Pilgrim in over-the-top revenge movie


A young man whose family was slain by a ruthless dictator seeks bloody revenge in the straightforwardly-plotted but cinematically innovative Boy Kills World, now playing in Prague cinemas. This mashup of familiar John Wick-style revenge movie tropes takes visual cues from comic books and video games à la Edgar Wright‘s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and turns what might have otherwise been the usual slog into something we genuinely haven’t seen before.

It takes awhile to get into Boy Kills World‘s striking vision, crafted by director Moritz Mohr from a script co-written with Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers and based on his earlier short film; audiences expecting the usual revenge movie tropes are going to be left playing catch-up as the film opens in a thinly-sketched futuristic landscape years after the inciting incident has taken place.

Bill Skarsgård plays the unnamed and silent Boy, and that inciting incident is the murder of his entire family by dictator Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen). Van Der Koy controls this vaguely futuristic world with an iron fist and keeps the rabble in line with a Hunger Games-like TV broadcast with contestants sourced by public lottery… but for reasons unclear, she just shoots Boy’s family in the street.

Opening scenes unfold in a dream-like fugue state as the Boy’s inner voice (H. Jon Benjamin) attempts to make some sense of the narrative. A third-act revelation will shine some light on why the filmmakers opened their movie like this, but a little exposition and world-building would have gone a long way. It’s a bad sign when every action feels arbitrary and random within the first five minutes of the movie.

Left for dead, Boy trains with the mystical Shaman (Yayan Ruhian) for what must be at least a decade before he embarks on his quest for revenge. And then he starts working his way up the Van Der Koy family tree one-by-one in flashy, over-the-top, incredibly violent slam-bang action sequences set to an energetic score from video game composer Ludvig Forssell (Death Stranding) that give the movie a kinetic jolt… and start to warm you up to its go-for-broke charms.

The rest of the movie is largely conveyed through the action, as Boy hooks up with a pair of rebels also out to take down the dictators (Isaiah Mustafa and a scene-stealing Andrew Koji) and fights endless waves of henchmen on his way to take out Melanie Van Der Koy (Michelle Dockery), her husband Glen (an underused Sharlto Copley), her brother Gideon (Brett Gelman), and a mysterious motorcycle-helmeted June27 (Jessica Rothe) on his way to Hilda at the top.

The action takes place at the family’s weapons factory, at a catered event at their rural estate, on the set of their televised population-control game show (which incorporates breakfast cereal mascots in its Running Man-like battles), and finally in their underground bunker. The extended, inventively-choreographed action scenes ultimately do wow us with the kind of razzle-dazzle that the narrative has largely failed to accomplish.

One gets the feeling that the filmmakers don’t care so much about their characters as they do about innovative filmmaking craft and Boy Kills World‘s over-the-top style, and that lessens the impact of what might have been a effective third-act twist. This movie has a lot of similarities with Dev Patel‘s recently-released Monkey Man, but that one was told in more straightforward fashion, and was a little more satisfying on a dramatic level as a result.

Still, one has to appreciate the gonzo go-for-broke approach with which Boy Kills World hurls itself at the screen, and the sheer cinematic imagination that sets it apart from everything else at the multiplex. While general audiences are likely to reject this one on face value, it seems destined to find a cult audience on the midnight movie circuit in the years to come.

Boy Kills World


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at

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