Big Game (2014) Review!!

Big-GameSynopsis – A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

My Take – Let me be honest here, the only reason I saw this movie despite no hype surrounding the film, is the presence of Samuel L Jackson aka the biggest bad ass of Hollywood as the president of U.S.A!! Lucky for me, the film is actually not bad! It is unapologetically old school without the grittiness and wannabe-maturity or seriousness of recent Hollywood action movies targeted at younger audience (like Hunger Games, Insurgent etc.). There’s direct references to 80’s Spielberg movies like E.T. and Indiana Jones, but the movie it resembles most is Cliffhanger, the mountaineering action from 90’s starring Sylvester Stallone. While it may seem ludicrous at times, the film manages to catches the one’s interest with hearty humor and lively visual. Adding to the series of recent movies involving President of The United States being in peril, the film is also presenting a quirky and amusing angle on the premise. Having more action than expected and lightly humorous, it hits on the right spot with just the right amount of casual fun. Some of the scenes are ridiculous, though the strange duo and witty material will be an accessible delight for audience. The story follows young Oskari (Onni Tommila) and the traditions of his small community in Finland. 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. This may be the weirdest duo of buddy action flick, but at this point Samuel L. Jackson could probably deliver any bizarre character asked of him.

BIG-GAMEsMeanwhile, back at Pentagon HQ bunker, the vice president (Victor Garber), his aide (Felicity Huffman), a top general (Ted Levine) and an intelligence expert (Jim Broadbent) pound their fists, actually shout lines like “Dear GOD!”, order in Chinese take-out, analyze a wall of gigantic satellite monitors and generally deliver Helander’s shallow, wholly-derivative and often groan-inducing dialogue with as much professional aplomb as they can muster. The film has light-hearted vibe, engaging on simple theme fitting for a family movie. Visual is unexpectedly vibrant. There are several moments worthy of any action movies. These few high octane shots balance the silly antics. Its foreign setting creates a more refreshing outlook than the usual city environment of the genre, it’s definitely a better view than being confined in White House again. Supposedly this film is fairly low budget, yet the biggest budget film in Finland. $8 million in fact. I must say that the effects look pretty great considering this, although the green screen is a bit obvious at times. The one thing this film excels at is the action. We get an awesome sequence featuring our main characters racing down Finnish mountains in a freezer which is probably the best sequence and was a little like a certain Indiana Jones film. 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 assassination attempt 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. But I guess all can be forgiven due to the amount of comic book fun. Instead of being about some regular guy who gets mixed up with a tough situation, we get a kid who already seem competent to the job, but haven’t fully earned his skill and experience, yet. It takes long enough to get to the real action, but the real shining moments here are whenever the two misfits interact, trying to bear with each other and contradict with the ridiculous choices one of them makes for survival, in a naturally comedic sense. While the threat still involves some risks and violence, this journey is all lighthearted. The heroes are basically just running around, choosing some crazy ways to escape from the bad guys as adventurous as possible. All performances in this film hold up well, even a small one from Jim Broadbent who mostly just eats and sandwich and tracks the president.

3a1337fe-7dbe-42c6-b51d-18b93d4ddc95-2060x1236Easy paycheck i suppose. Samuel L Jackson is well the ever awesome Samuel L Jackson. Onni Tommila kinda reminded me of Macaulay Culkin, well in the good sense! What if he was left alone in the forest? Wouldn’t he be a bad ass too?  Some other notable names for the supporting cast such as Victor Garber and Ray Stevenson also are appreciated. Casting isn’t far from their usual roles, and they adequately presentable here. The best parts are really when the two heroes are together, trying to fit in from their unlikeness. I guess the only major thing to complain now is there should be more. It’s not like that is going to make this a masterpiece, but it does left you wanting more, like we want to see more of these characters and explore more absurdity that this journey can come with. I mean, there’s a scene where a fridge, where our heroes are hiding, is rolling down into the waterfall, with Samuel L. Jackson’s character paranoia adding up the hilarity of the scene. And that’s just one example of what makes this movie delightfully adventurous.  On the whole, ‘Big Game’ is visually fresh, charmingly witty, simple yet entertaining action comedy. It is a lot of fun, with a variety of amusingly odd ideas that come off great for a mindless action experience. It is a fun throw back to 80s action movies that isn’t perfect but serves as an incredibly enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes. It was the perfect length although one scene at the end, don’t worry no spoilers, really didn’t make sense but who cares when the film is so much fun. I would recommend giving it a go and even if you don’t like the film, Sam Jackson is still as enjoyable as ever!!

.3

Director – Jalmari Helander

Starring – Samuel L. Jackson, Onni Tommila, Ray Stevenson

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 110 minutes

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