Director: Jalmari Helander
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Felicity Huffman, Victor Garber, Jim Broadbent, Ted Levine, Ray Stevenson, Mehmet Kurtulus
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence & Brief Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/BigGameMovie
Opening Day: 7 May 2015
Synopsis: A young teenager (newcomer Onni Tommila) camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.
An absurd story about a thirteen year old saving the President of United States. Checked. Unbelievable action sequences featuring exploding aircrafts and bulletproof protagonists. Checked. One-dimensional villains who have no shame uttering cheesy dialogue. Checked. Throw Samuel L. Jackson into the mix and congratulations, you have Big Game.
Set in Finland, Big Game begins by introducing the audience to young Oskari (Onni Tommila) and the traditions of his small community. Just a day shy of his thirteenth birthday, Oskari embarks on a coming-of-age tradition that requires him to survive and hunt alone in the frigid wilderness of the Finnish Lapland. The son of a hunter who brought back a bear in the same hunting tradition, Oskari has big shoes to fill in order to prove his worth.
Meanwhile, up in the skies, the aircraft carrying U.S President Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) is coming under missile attacks. Forced into an emergency evacuation pod by trusted Secret Service Agent Morris (Ray Stevenson), Moore finds himself hurtling down into the foreign landscapes of the Finnish wilderness. Fortunately for Moore, his pod is discovered by Oskari, who happens to conveniently be within the vicinity of his landing. Unknown to Moore however, is that Morris has gone rogue and is conspiring with Hazar (Mehmet Kurtulus), a psychotic terrorist bent on hunting Moore as game.
There is a difference between films that parody or pay homage to movie genres and films that masquerade itself as one. While one speaks volume of a director’s understanding of the genre, the other says much about the director’s skills (or lack thereof). Unfortunately for director Jalmari Helander, Big Game belongs to the latter category.
Despite Helander’s inclusion of clichés and tropes, Big Game just does not come across as a throwback, parody or homage to the action genre. In fact, Big Game starts off well as an action flick with its premise and characters. As such, oddities in the film can be easily seen as awkward set-ups as long as they fulfill their purposes later in the story. The strange emergency evacuation pod on board the aircraft, for example, can be forgiven as it plays a role in creating the interesting encounter between the President and Oskari.
What is unforgivable, however, is when oddities in plot and logic overpower the main focus of the film. Instead of focusing on Oskari’s development and personal growth, Helander decides to, as put across by Kirk Lazarus, “go full retard” and spends his budget on ridiculously exaggerated action sequences. The tonal shift, beginning with Oskari’s decision to jump onto a freezer transported by a helicopter, is the “jumping the shark” moment that marks the descend of the film into a ludicrous b-grade movie; so much so that Jackson and Tommila’s performances are lost in face of the bizarre comic book violence.
Plot loopholes are also abundant in the film, making the viewing of the film a strange experience. For instance, CIA terrorist expert Hurbert’s (Jim Broadbent) involvement in the President’s assisnation is not clearly explained; the same with his relationship with Hazar. Felicity Huffman’s lack of lines as the bland CIA Director also suggests that the film has been edited and re-edited into a pale translation of the original script.
That being said, Big Game can be enjoyable if you are a connoisseur of B-grade action flicks. With it campy plot and exaggerated action sequences, Big Game is one action-adventure flick that B-grade movie lovers should not miss.
(A campy B-grade movie perfect for young thirteen year olds jacked up on coke and popcorn)
Review by Leng Mong